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!


Monday, October 26, 2015

Mk 10:46-52 A Blind Man Who Saw God

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By FR ALFONSE NAZZARO

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, sat by the roadside begging.  On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, son of David, have pity on me."  And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.  But he kept calling out all the more.  Jesus stopped and said, "Call him." ...Jesus said to him in reply, "What do you want me to do for you?"  The blind man replied, "Master, I want to see."  Jesus told him, "Go your way; your faith has saved you."  Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

In today's Gospel passage, we read about a blind man who believed in God.  He didn't need to see God in order to believe in Him.  He just needed to have faith.

Yesterday, I read in the Dallas Morning News an interesting article.  Apparently more Norwegians believe in ghosts than in God.  I'm not surprised.  But I am amused.  I find it absolutely amusing what people believe in when they don't believe in God!

More than eye can see.  More than ear can hear.  Bartimaeus believed in a lot of things.  He believed in God and in the colors and descriptions of things he could not see.  In other words, he believed there was more to life than in what his eyes could see.  This is important, and a great lesson for all of us. 

There is so much more than what our eyes can see and our ears can hear.  Do you believe this?

Thankfully, scientists and engineers believe it.  That's why they invent more and more powerful microscopes, telescopes and - why not - stethoscopes.  They know there is more to this world than eye can see and ear can hear.  They know we are very limited in our sensory perceptions.  Are we not also a bit limited in our spiritual perceptions?  And maybe - just maybe - our sensory perceptions inhibit a bit our spiritual perceptions!

After all, it was a blind man - not the crowd - who had enough faith in Jesus to ask him for a miracle.

There is much to learn from Bartimaeus:  There is more to this world than what eye can see and ear can hear.

There are also a lot of people like Bartimaeus in this world. 

I don't know if you read the incredible love story of a remarkable couple who stunned their closest friends when they decided to get married.  Their friends said it could never work.  But three years later, things couldn't be better for Ian and Larissa.

"In an age when marriages are breaking at the drop of a hat...it is endearing to see a love story as beautiful and as unique as this one.  

College sweethearts, Ian and Larissa, like any other couple had eyes full of dreams.  Dreams of getting married, having children and building their castle of love - together!  But, something happened, something so tragic that changed their lives forever." 

Ian had a horrific car accident and in the crash he hemorrhaged his brain.  The once happy-go-lucky guy was left without the ability to speak, walk and care for himself.

Despite all this, Larissa's love did not change.  She was confident in her love for Ian.  Her friends were not so sure.  They tried to convince their best friend not to marry him.  He will be a burden to you for the rest of your life.  You won't have a life.  You won't be able to realize all your dreams.  Why put yourself through all this?  You don't owe him anything.  You don't have to do this. 

But Larissa knew there was more to Ian than eye could see. She knows this because she knows there is more to love than eye could ever see! 

Their wedding was one of the most beautiful weddings friends and family had seen, even their skeptical friends agreed.

Over the years, Ian's condition has actually become better and is steadily improving. 

Hate to say this, but this couple's skeptical friends were acting more like scientists than like friends.  Scientists can be very boring.  After all, most of them just report what they see.  What you see is what you get, right?  And when they discover something amazing...chances are it was by accident!

On the other hand, poets and artists are like welcomed friends.  They are never boring.  They see well beyond what eye can see; that is, well beyond the obvious!  They go deep.  They "see" deep.  They see and/or hear things no one else can see and/or hear.  And through their art, they give to us - the blind and deaf - a world full of amazing colors and sounds.  They reveal the Spirit in all things.

Now if you find it amazing what poets and artists can reveal, then you should find it even more amazing at what God reveals through His Son.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Rom 8:1-11 Pay It Forward

Saturday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
By JENNIFER BURGIN

For those who live according to the flesh are concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit with the things of the spirit. The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace.

Wednesday morning I craved a Chick-Fil-A spicy biscuit sandwich, so I decided to go through the drive thru on my way to work.  I sat waiting for the Mini Cooper in front of me to place her order.  Several minutes passed by when impatience set in. "Come on, Lady! Why aren't you moving forward? Make up your mind!  Is it a biscuit, fruit, or an OJ???  I needed to get to work like five minutes ago! " Finally, the car moved forward as I inhaled exhaust fumes. (Oh, the stench. Cough, cough..)  I rolled up my window mumbling to myself  "Uh!  Why did I bother coming here today?  Is this sandwich really worth the wait ?"

Feeling super hungry, cranky and not at all in the mood to go to work, I finally reached the pick-up window.  I handed the attendant my debit card.  She smiled and said, "Oh, ma'am, the lady in front of you just paid for your breakfast!"

What?  Free breakfast?  Wow!  Okay, now I felt like a jerk for being so impatient and crabby. (Lord, please pardon me!)  My foul mood instantly vanished!  I couldn't believe I was a beneficiary of the "pay it forward" phenomenon I've heard so much about.  I drove to work with a grin on my face.  The first thing I did before even turning my computer on was tell my coworkers about my experience.  

No question.  I will "pay it forward" the next time I'm at a drive thru window no matter how many passengers occupy the vehicle behind mine. Good deeds do wonders for the psyche.

Sadly, in our narcissistic culture, it's common to see people go through their every daylives without a care in the world.  They are "in-love" with themselves:  obsessed with the flesh.  These people live and breathe selfishness.  They believe life is all about accumulating wealth, power, and material possessions.  If they happen to do anything, it's to benefit their own desires.  Pride is at the focal point....

Contrast this by the faithful who are more concerned with the Spirit than the flesh.  They are observant of people and situations, finding ways to be kind and help others.  They are fine Christian witnesses who despite the negativity that is so prevalent in our society turn situations positive.  Kindness, love and goodness preferred over pride, vanity, and hatefulness. 

I think we should all "pay it forward" sometime in the next week with one act of kindness.  Offer a friend a ride, leave a nice tip at a restaurant, or compliment a co-worker for a job well done!  I think Our Lord smiles every time he sees one of his flock do something special for someone else.  We are all here on this earth to help one another and love one another.  

Throw away the selfishness and replace it with selflessness.  Do a good deed today and everyday!

St. Anthony Mary Claret, Pray for Us!

"I will be kind to everybody, particularly to those I find troublesome." - St. Anthony Mary Claret
"A life lived for others, is the only life worth living." - Albert Einstein


This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin.  Please visit her blog:  Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Rom 6:12-18 Tolle Lege!

Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)
 
By Benedict Augustine

“But thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin,
you have become obedient from the heart
to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted.
Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.”

Some people like to confess that they suffer from an “addictive personality.” Like their forefathers, they often find themselves lost in some pleasure like gambling, or alcohol, or drugs. Calling an otherwise pedestrian vice some kind of hereditary holdover or some psychological determinant might take away some of the badness, but it unfortunately does not remove it. Whatever his personality might be, an addict is still an addict.

Of course, in an age that fosters so many pleasures, quite a few of which are innocuously deemed “guiltless,” one might ask, “What is so bad about addiction?” Pretty much everyone is an addict in some way, but for many, it is the law or biology that determines which addictions are acceptable or not. This means that drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol are obviously bad since they often do harm to the body. The evils of other addictions do not stand out so easily. Do they even count?

What does one make of addictions to pornography, videogames, Netflix, social media, smartphones, or shopping? Something might be said about the psychological or relational damage they might inflict, but people smooth this over by preaching simple moderation. However, these pleasures hardly admit any kind of moderation, as any person who has tried to kick the habit can attest. Looking at pornography might seem moderate enough, except when a man tries quit it completely. A woman may not look at her phone “all the time” like her other friends, but she would feel utterly helpless if she left her phone at home one day. A teenager might binge on Netflix in the lazy days of summer, thinking little of it, until they find themselves academically handicapped when they return to school. If one is not careful, these addictions fasten themselves into a person’s consciousness and worm their way into the daily routine.

Besides preaching a hopeful gospel of the Resurrection to the rich and poor alike, the Christian apostles made inroads with their audiences through the abundance of common sense, particularly about addiction, that could sometimes make the great Greek philosophers look downright silly. Plato and Aristotle spoke a great deal of morality and ethics, along with the Stoics and Epicureans who followed,and would develop complex theories of balancing the passions, perfecting virtues, moderating the appetite, and developing a disciplined routine through the application of a purified intellect. While the early Christians politely acknowledged these contributions, they could cut to the problem quite easily. They knew people could only serve one master, and if this master was not the Creator, it had to be some kind of creature, which in turn made the people slaves.

In other words, Paul and other disciples understood that people suffer helplessly from one addiction or another. They do not appreciate thingsdisinterestedly; they fall headlong into a vice and become consumed with it. And, contrary to the wise words of Plotinus, Zeno, or Lucretius, they cannot simply pull themselves out of it with a thorough course in philosophy. Rather, they need the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Nothing less will do.

For this reason, even the best of the philosophers could not shake off an addiction. They simply traded away a carnal addiction for a spiritual one, but it was an addiction all the same. Socrates could easily pass on the drinking and carousing of his young pupils—in most cases, anyway—but he could not pass on exalting himself, his mode of life. In all of Plato’s dialogue, Socrates proves that he is addicted to himself, or more properly, the idea of himself. For all his false humility, he is a slave to his ego, a slave to his ideas. Most intellectuals suffer from this. If one were to ask this type of person to give up preaching their ideas, as they asked Socrates to do, they would, like Socrates, rather choose death.

St. Augustine knew this truth well. In his Confessions, he recounts his plunge into all levels of addictions: first, carnal ones; second, social ones; and third, spiritual ones. After some soul-searching and some miserable experiences teaching—it seems that Roman and Carthaginian teachers dealt with many of the same problems as those of teachers today—he rid himself of the spiritual and social addictions. However, he struggled badly with the carnal addictions up until his conversion.

Oddly enough, it was a passage in Paul’s letter to the Romans that led to his conversion. He heard a voice in the forest crying “Tolle lege! (take and read!)”and opened up the Bible to the verse that condemned fornication. He broke down and cried at this moment because he realized that all his reasons—and, being the genius that he was, he had many—signified absolutely nothing. He was a slave, and he needed the good master.

It is telling that when modern people read St. Augustine’s work today, many find him unnecessarilyharsh about sin and addictions. The devil’s monotonous temptation, “you will be like gods!” continues unabated as human beings, Christian and non-Christian, wrestle with the allures of the Information Age. I even remember an issue of TheAtlantic declaring that the iPhone has effectively defeated temptation by providing so many apps that can regulate a person’s behavior. Curiously, the world remains entranced by addiction despite such innovations.

Only one master exists that can save man from the addiction: Jesus Christ. One may still choose to be slave, foolishly hoping the thing that enslaves them might someday liberate them. Or one might come to their senses, take up Paul’s words (tolle lege!), and serve a new master who will make him a son, not a slave.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Luke 12:49 Go and Set the World on Fire

Tuesday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By SOPHIE DRUFFNER

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!

About a year ago, I was kneeling in the All Saints Chapel in Eucharistic adoration when, flipping through the readings in the Worship hymnal, looking for some divine revelations from God on which college I was meant to attend, my eyes caught this verse.

I was so confused.

The “fire” here that Jesus mentions has a deeper meaning than a single spark, although of course, it starts that way. The fire here is a purifying, cleansing fire, one that can cleanse the world in order to make change. And we’re not talking about physical fire here, which relies on the presence of oxygen. We’re talking about spiritual fire: the fire of the Holy Spirit.

Go and Set the World on Fire
Almost every day I thank God for how blessed I am to have been given a solid Catholic education, a faith that reaches through the centuries, and a capacity to make change. But no one can move mountains alone. One needs the fire which Jesus gave us on the day of Pentecost. One needs the ability to say or write the right words, to know when to speak and when to stay silent, and the ability to love no matter how unlovable someone may seem. One needs the Holy Spirit.
In this world, there are so many people who need your love. Let’s take the cashier at Target. For eight (or more) hours a day, the cashier swipes credit cards, counts change, has to endure screaming children and irate parents, and interact with hundreds of members of humanity. It’s a mind-numbing job, I’m sure.

So break the monotony. As St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote, go and set the world on fire.
Try to strike up a conversation, or at the very least, give that cashier a compliment. Look for something that she probably took time on that morning—earrings, hairstyle, a nice sweater over the regulated polo, makeup, gelled hair. Or look for something the person probably admires about themselves—quality or color of hair, beautiful eyes. Look that person in the eye and give them a compliment. Break the monotony. Go and set the world on fire.

Or think about the invisible people in this world: the bus drivers, bathroom cleaners, janitors, bus station-sweepers, shop assistants. If you have the opportunity, reach out to them. I once had a five-minute conversation with a woman cleaning one of our college’s bathrooms over singing while cleaning. She had a beautiful voice and I think she appreciated the compliment and the conversation.  I’ve told a custodian fixing her hair in between cleaning sinks that I really liked her hair, because she let it go gray and white instead of dyeing it. She was so surprised that I noticed, and then she gave me a huge smile and with a thick Latin accent, wished me a happy weekend! I walked off to class with a huge smile on my face, and I know hers was still there when I closed the door of the restroom. A spark had ignited.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Lk 12:8-12 Survey Says

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr
 
By JENNIFER BURGIN



Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say.  For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.”

Survey Says Almost every time I purchase something, or interact with someone, I am asked to complete a survey.  I've lived in my new apartment less than a month and the management company has already sent out 3 surveys asking me to rate my move-in experience and maintenance requests.  The auto company called about my car buying experience and then followed up with an online survey. Even my employer asked me to complete a "quick" survey rating  my boss' job performance.  

I feel like our society is bombarded with never-ending surveys! What if I rated a person or experience poorly? Will my opinion change anything?  I understand companies want to ensure satisfied customers, but being asked to complete a survey after purchasing a bag of dog food, making a cable bill inquiry, or even signing a new lease agreement is annoying.  Most people will only take the effort  to fill out a survey if they have something negative to say.  Personally, I rather fill out a digitized comment card when I have a truly awesome experience. Otherwise, I simply "delete" the email and go on with my business hoping one of those survey reminder messages doesn't appear in my inbox the next day.... 

 If I like something, I will buy it again.  If I don't like something, I will tell my friends to stay away! 

Rating Jesus   If the Pharisees and Scribes completed a survey on how well Jesus follows the Law he would receive a 1 -"Poor" rating with comments like:  "He blasphemes!  Traitor of Moses! Friend of sinners!"  Alternatively, a follower miraculously healed by Our Lord would rate him a "5"- "Excellent" making comments such as: "He healed me!  He loves all of us regardless of our sinfulness.  He's so warm, loving and compassionate."  I bet the woman Jesus referred to as a dog or the deaf man who was spit on twice might put down a 3.5 or 4 just because....

How would you rate Jesus on a scale from 1 to 5?  Hopefully most of us reading this blog would select a 5 with no heavy thought. However, those who question their belief in God may not even know what to select.  Questions come to mind:  Isn't Jesus some guy from the past who performed miracles and got killed for it? How is he relevant in my life now?  All of this talk about loving your enemies is a crock, isn't it?

Surveys aside, we can choose to love Christ and follow his Commandments, or we can abandon him by the waste side.  Sadly so many people in our modern day culture have little time for God or religion.  We all notice it within our empty pews, social engagements, and liberal media.  How can we convince lapsed Catholics to return to the church?  How can we influence society so they will not abandon religious practice all together in exchange for an "anything goes" lifestyle?

Today is the feast day of Saint Ignatius of Antioch.  Tradition has it the child the gospel writer Mark refers to in Mark 9:37 is actually Saint Ignatius of Antioch:  Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.  Even in modern day times, Saint Ignatius writings still inspire the faithful.

"I am God's wheat, and I shall be ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may become the pure bread of Christ." -Saint Ignatius of Antioch

Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Pray for Us!

  This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin.  Please visit her blog:  Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Rom 2:1-11 The Hypocrisy of Being Nonjudgmental

Wednesday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

By Benedict Augustine

“You, O man, are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment.
For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself,
since you, the judge, do the very same things.”

The good conscientious Christian fears few things more than the charge of hypocrisy. Out of all kinds of wrongdoing, Jesus cites hypocrisy as among the very worst. Not only is it dishonest and offensive, it undermines efforts of evangelization. In fact, it might be the single biggest threat to the Church, and thus the biggest threat to people’s salvation. A murderer may take lives, but the hypocrite may take souls. Hence, Jesus spends far more time crying “Woe!” to the Pharisees than to the Romans.

Despite their relative distance from Jesus, people outside the Church today continue making the charge on Christians, assuming the role of Jesus. For them, unless every Christian is poor, miserable, and hoisted on a cross, they warrant the charge of hypocrisy (see the attached picture of my hero, Pope Benedict, stupidly being condemned for his lack of charity). They enjoy a normal marriage and condemn same-sex marriage? Hypocrites! They have a comfortable life in a developed country while people starve in other parts of the world? Hypocrites! They want to help the poor, but don’t support fleecing the rich and imposing socialism? Hypocrites! They revere the Virgin Mary and the special role of women in salvation, but don’t aggressively tout the unnatural claims of modern feminism? Hypocrites!

Against such an onslaught continually launched bythese sanctimonious secularists (again, see the attached picture), many Christians go quiet. Although they cannot bring themselves to simply go with the social trends eviscerating the family and the Church, they cannot speak against it without the fear of being a hypocrite.

At most they will try to find points of agreement and keep their objections buried deep in their hearts. They express their love for homosexuals, but softlymutter their contentions with redefining marriage. They will loudly express their solidarity with the poor, but talk amongst friends about how oppressive socialist regimes made them poor and kept them there. And this will be the case with most issues, as though keeping one’s unpopular opinions to oneself somehow absolves them hypocrisy, as though Jesus does not read the minds of all people and note the discrepancy between their thoughts and their words.

In this way, the threat of being labeled a hypocrite ironically leads to even greater hypocrisy since some people will actually override their own conscience and common sense to keep from offending anyone. So many Christians now posit a phony tolerance in place of charity, a vague relativism in place of truth,and a virtual connection on the internet in place of a spiritual body in the Church. In short, they claim to be Christians despite rejecting all the very things that make them Christian.

Is this what Paul or Jesus want when they telldisciples “not to judge”? Are they really just giving a lesson in tact? A lesson in politics? No, they in fact suggest the opposite. They do not tell people not to judge, but to judge themselves before others. One may rebuke sinners, as long as he rebukes himself. One may confront heresy, as long as he practices orthodoxy. One may demand virtues of others, as long as he practices virtues himself.

Of course, some have adopted the more liberal interpretation of judging others. If one does not judge, he will not be judged himself—therefore,good Christians simply live and let live. However, this breezy non-confrontational attitude flies in the face of real charity. A person who hurts himself and others requires help, not tolerance. A person who wants goodness needs advice, not nonjudgmental silence. A person who suffers from loneliness and neglect needs affection, not more space. For this reason, the person who avoids judgment actually incurs a harsher judgment. As paradoxical as it sounds, God will judge a person for not judging!

This does not mean that one should fall into judging the world with impunity—that should be left to the experts. One must simply focus on oneself first. As Paul recommends, one must judge oneself before anything and seek God’s grace for self-perfection. Then, out of charity, one may judge others for their betterment. In this regard, it is important to heed St. Theresa of Avila’s advice: “Be gentle to all and stern with yourself.”

Acting this way will not a person a hypocrite, but a true loving Christian.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Lk 11: 8-13 A Friend To Open the Door

Thursday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By SOPHIE DRUFFNER

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit
to those who ask him?”

“To the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

God must have been laughing when I got locked out of my room this weekend.
For two weeks, I’ve perpetually kept my key tied around astretchy elastic band around my wrist. But disastrously, I had taken my key off when I practiced the day before and left it in my violin case (a fatal decision that I would only discover later). And so, I was locked outside of my room, with every RA in the building gone and a violin lesson in an hour.

Even if I had knocked, the door would not have been open to me; alas, there was no one behind the door. An hour later, though, my roommate eventually came back, and I was able to run down to the music school, take a 30-minute lesson, and emerge from the lesson, still sweating, with time left to buy a pumpkin. God is so good.

Sometimes, it seems as if there is no one behind the door, and that God isn’t listening. But the actions of friends and their prayers for you can open the door and bring you the grace of God.
The Catholic Fish (the freshmen of University Catholic) have aGroupMe, which is the better version of the group text. At the beginning, we started praying Compline and Rosary together in the late hours of the night together, and our group has grown so strong. In the past week, members of the group have started putting prayer requests into the GroupMe, and because we’re praying with and for each other, we’re only getting stronger.

Prayer chains often arise only in times of crisis. But how much better would it be if we could pray with our friends all the time—“to pray without ceasing?” If we can pray together all the time, we can pray together at any time.

So get a group of your friends together and go get lunch. Then, after lunch, find a place to pray and say a decade of the Rosary. Or better yet, the whole Rosary (and good for you if you don’t get the Nicene creed and the Apostolic creed mixed up; the Fish are still working on that). Prayer is powerful, and sometimes, someone else has to open that door for you.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Lk 11:27-28 Wheels and Kneels

Saturday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
By JENNIFER BURGIN


While Jesus was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

Last weekend I bought a brand new 2016 Honda Accord Coupe EX-L.  The beautiful body style is fully-loaded with the latest tech and safety features.   My old 2003 Accord with 167 K miles needed costly repairs. Two AAA emergency roadside calls within a short time period warned: "The car is dying. Time for a new set of wheels!"

 Did I make a wise decision?  Should I have purchased something without all of the bells and whistles?  I realize some people cannot afford a vehicle, yet I paid a hefty price tag for a luxury that only depreciates in value.  I can enjoy it while it is the latest and greatest,  but the new will eventually wear off.   In another 5-10 years, I'll be in the same situation with a used and worn out car.  

One thing I know for certain is The Holy Spirit never depreciates! Jesus Christ is the greatest beyond the latest!  God is the ultimate engineer, technological expert, and safety specialist.  He rides with us along the roadways of life.  Sometimes he's in the passenger seat whereas at other times he takes a hold of the steering wheel navigating us away from danger.

I like to think of an automobile as a moving sacred space.  Most of us cannot safely kneel on the floorboard. However, we can still pray, meditate, and witness to others as we place a foot on the gas pedal and crank up the tunes! 

With my new Sirius XM radio, I can hear the word of God and observe it through Catholic radio. I can be a good Christian witness by obeying traffic laws.  Instead of becoming irritated while stuck in traffic, I can pray a rosary or say a prayer for a stranded motorist.  Best of all, as I drive on long distance road trips, I can appreciate the beauty of nature - the mountains, hills, trees, and waterways.  Nothing more relaxing than seeing America's countryside knowing God is part of the landscape!

“The prayer of the farmer kneeling in his field to weed it, the prayer of the rower kneeling with the stroke of his oar, are true prayers heard throughout nature.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin.  Please visit her blog:  Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Jon 3:1-10 We Are All Jonah

Wednesday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

By Benedict Augustine

“He prayed, ‘I beseech you, LORD,
is not this what I said while I was still in my own country?
This is why I fled at first to Tarshish.
I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God,
slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish.
And now, LORD, please take my life from me;
for it is better for me to die than to live.”
But the LORD asked, “Have you reason to be angry?’”

Normally, people become angry with God for some kind of loss, some inexplicable evil, or some kind of injustice. Atheists, fallen-away Catholics, and many other nonreligious people usually cite God’s failure to help all the people, particularly innocent people. This is their best counterargument against the good God described in the Bible.

As with so many other matters, St. Thomas Aquinas anticipates this argument so many centuries before them. He responds with a very logical—though not exactly satisfying—answer: God wills evil for a good purpose, though human beings might be able to see this. Modern apologists will add that free will also factors into the presence of evil: if one cannot choose evil, one is not truly free, and if one is not free, one cannot truly love God.

Neither of these explanations will satisfy a person who has made up his mind on how the world should function, nor does it satisfy Jonah. However, despite employing the same reasoning as this group of non-theists, he differs from their conclusion, airing his grievances against God for being too nice! If he were God, he would destroy the Nineveh without a second thought; their people, the Babylonians, invaded and enslaved Jonah (and God’s) people, the Israelites. In this reluctant prophet’s mind, the least that God could do would be to annihilate such an idolatrous race of people.

Jonah feels so strongly about this that he even shirks his responsibility as a prophet to allow Nineveh to be destroyed. In his little mind, he might have even believed that God commissioned him with the message in order to have it not carried out, knowing Jonah’s resentment. Like American executives in government refusing to enforce a law—unless it related to same-sex marriage or some other hot-button issue—Jonah would simply refuse to announce God’s message.

After some extraordinary events take place, involving storms and praying inside a fish, Jonah finally relents and tells Nineveh to repent. To his dismay, they listen and actually do penance bywearing sackcloth, fasting, and praying for God’s mercy. Jonah’s subsequent bitterness conjuresimages of the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son or the worthless servant in parable of the talents who buried his talent in the ground because his master was a hard man. Outside of parables, Jonah’s bitterness also foreshadows the attitude of the Pharisees.

To his credit, Jonah is at least honest, which says more than others who complain about God’s ineptitude. He does not attempt to rationalize his hatred, nor does he couch it in politically correct language that shows a nominal concern for thedisenfranchised. He hates the people of Nineveh, and he would rather die than see them happy. The only thing that pleases him is the gourd plant whichoffers shades as he stews in his misery over the city’s conversion. When God kills the plant, he asks again to die, and the story ends there.

The obsessive bitterness of Jonah probably makes little sense for Christians basking—or often, desperately clinging—to God’s mercy and His penchant for inclusion. Telling others that “God is love” is a great selling point for most people who could use some relief from their problems.

But kind and gentle Christians tend to forget that a good portion of people in the world do not want relief to their problems, but instead a quick and easy solution. Although they will never say it outright, except maybe in terrorist propaganda, many people want God to hate. In their black hearts, they want God to kill all the infidels, or all the poor people in the world, or all the rich people, or all the disabled, or all the elderly, or all the infants, or even all of humanity.

If people were as honest as Jonah, it would become clear that more people resent God for His love, for His goodness, than for His negligence or allowance of evil. Sadly, their hatred of God naturallyaccompanies a hatred of man. It is no coincidence that the two most violent and destructive ideologies in history, militant Islam and totalitarianism, have either mischaracterized God as killer or explicitly reviled Him as they mercilessly mowed down millions of innocent victims.

As difficult as it might be, no one should ignore Jonah. God certainly does not ignore him, despite his bile, pettiness, and darkness. By the end of the book, the narrative ironically seems to indicate that it is Jonah who needs saving more the people of Nineveh. He needs to transcend his brutal fantasies and lack of charity. The gourd that gives him shade likely symbolizes the dark delusions that gives him comfort and keeps him safe from the harsh light of truth.

God takes away his gourd to offer him something greater. Jonah cannot run, which is his first (and particularly strong) instinct. He must repent and accept God’s love, a love that extends beyond the Jewish people, beyond even the good people, but stretches forth to all creation—and He may desire that Jonah to preach to them too.

Christians today face the same dilemma as Jonah. At some point, they will need to reject the tacit prejudices they cherish against the poor, the rich, the weak, the strong, the different, or even the same that excuses their lack of action. God seeks repentance from all, because He is a God of love, not hate.

Mk 10:2-12 Marriage 101

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By FR ALFONSE NAZZARO

The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, "Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?" They were testing him.  He said to them in reply, "What did Moses command you?" They replied, "Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her."  But Jesus told them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment.  But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."

Let's get some things cleared up.  I can't tell you how often I hear things like, "I can no longer receive communion because I am divorced."  Or, "I've been excommunicated from the Church because I was divorced and remarried."


Let me make some things clear.  (1) Being divorced does not prohibit you from receiving communion.  Nor does it prevent you from going to Confession.  (2) If you were divorced and remarried then you need to seek an annulment prior to receiving communion and going to confession.  But in no way are you excommunicated from the Church.


Marriage in the contemporary world.  We all know that marriage in America is currently going through the ringer.  Poll after poll and survey after survey suggests fewer and fewer young people are tying the knot or staying married.  So while marriage is on the decline, divorce and out of wedlock children are on the rise. What in the world is going on? 


Do you feel betrayed by your elders?  I kind of do!  And not because they failed to tell us how difficult marriage can be, but because they refused to tell us all they had learned!  



Instead of giving us the straight talk on marriage (and life), our elders decided to follow the example of their elders and rev it up for engine failure.  Yep.  they got us all excited about things they were no longer excited about!  And by the way, it is the same things we hear about on the radio and TV.  

What am I talking about?


"Opposites attract."  No they don't! Well, maybe in some things.  But not at all when it comes to core values.  Sharing with your spouse the same moral and religious values is an essential - ESSENTIAL - ingredient to maintaining a long healthy relationship.  Otherwise, let the fighting begin...and never end!


"Is he/she cute?"  I remember running home from middle school one day and telling my folks:  "Mom!  Dad!  I met this girl today!!" And what did they say?  "Is she cute?  Is she pretty?"   "Of course!  Otherwise I wouldn't have anything to do with her!", I said.    But now I know better.  Was that really what was most important?  Our parents knew better.  They knew from their own experiences that beauty quickly goes to the back of the line in importance.  My grandmother once told me this and I never forgot it - I just didn't believe it.  Why?  Because she was one lonely voice telling me this very disturbing news.
  
While I had a hard time understanding why certain couples were together, I had a nearly impossible time trying to understand why certain couples were married!  Why?  Because I thought physically attractive people married each other!    

Our parents knew better.  They knew the truth.  Why didn't they tell us?  Maybe they didn't want us to know their error.  Maybe they didn't want to complicate things.


Instead of asking our teen if their boyfriend or girlfriend is cute. We should ask them if they know them.


"The thrill of sex."  Yes...sex is great.  But intimacy is even better. Unfortunately, you would never know it by the looks of things.  TV shows and movies are always peddling sex as the greatest thing ever.  Well, it isn't. And we all know it.  And now we need to let our children know it.  Intimacy is far deeper and far more meaningful and fulfilling than sex.  In fact, spouses spend the vast majority of their time talking to one another, hanging out together, and sharing their most intimate thoughts with each other.


We know better.  We need to let our children know this as well.  It's so important that the love of their life is also their best friend - someone they enjoying spending time with; someone they can trust; someone they love to hangout with; someone they can share their most intimate fears, thoughts and struggles with.  


This will last longer than any thrills.


"Marriage is worth more than the wedding."  But you wouldn't know it by the amount of money spent on weddings, especially Hollywood weddings.  

Weddings happen once in a life time - at least that's how we would like it to be; but a marriage lasts every single day after.  


We know this!  We all know this...except our children.  It's time to share it with our young - to share with them the transition from wedding to marriage; that is, from fanfare to commitment; from words to actions; from symbols to sacrament.   


We need to surprise them by telling them to invest more into their marriage than into their spouse.


"Marriage is tough." I know marriage is tough.  But I also know it is very appealing.  Over 90% of people will get married in their lifetime.  

Marriage is not out-of-style!   


It's time to let our children see the real life benefits of being married.  For example, I find it breathtaking that a man and a woman would want to spend their entire life together.  I find it absolutely remarkable that a man and a woman would shatter their lifestyle and routine by creating a child in their image and likeness.  I find it stunning that a man and a woman could complement in each other in the most intimate and mundane ways.               


Marriage is tough especially when we take our spouse for granted. Be careful not to let this happen.  Have your date nights.  Have your weekend getaways.  Have your romance.  Have your intimacy. Take care of your body.  Dress up well. 


And never stop talking to your best friend.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Bar 4:5-12, 27-29 On Eagles' Wings

Saturday of the Twenty Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
By JENNIFER BURGIN


"Fear not, my children; call out to God! He who brought this upon you will remember you. As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God, turn now ten times the more to seek him; For he who has brought disaster upon you  will, in saving you, bring you back enduring joy.”

Today's first reading from the Book of Baruch reminds me of the hymn "On Eagles Wings":

And he will raise you up on eagles' wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of his hand.

What comfort to know that Our Lord is present, guiding and molding us.  He holds us in the palm in his hand as he shelters us from harm.  Do not worry about falling down; the Lord lifts up.  Do not fret about being alone; the Lord is a loyal companion.  Do not worry about death; the Lord grants eternal life to all who believe and follow His Will.

Back in junior high school,  our principal asked students to submit ideas for a new school motto.  The winner of the contest received a movie theater gift card and recognition during morning announcements....

My mom and I spent a weekend brainstorming ideas.   We wanted to use the school mascot, an eagle, in the motto. I remember we stopped by a local Shell gas station to fill up my mom's old '85 Ford Thunderbird.  Noticing the word "excellence" on the gas station sign, I turned to my mom saying: "Oh, what about using the words Eagle excellence!?"  She thought it was an "excellent" idea.  By the time we filled up the gasoline tank, the new motto was created:  Experience the Eagle Excellence.   It sounded pretty darn good.  Yet, I convinced myself another student would come up with a better motto.  No way within an eagle's eye would I win the contest!

A few weeks later, I sat in 2nd period when the school motto contest winner was announced:  "And our new school motto is Experience the Eagle Excellence by Jennifer Burgin!"  My first reaction involved the instinctive cringe after hearing my last name mispronounced! However,  I quickly recovered feeling excitement as well as surprise.  Who knew my motto was a winner? I remember how proud my mom was after I told her the news.  She bragged to all of her coworkers and friends for weeks afterwards. 

I often wonder if that school motto is still in use so many years later...

We can allow fear to take over our lives, keeping us away from the Church and the Sacraments.  The eagle is one of the largest birds in the world.  We may think we can never reach its beauty, magnificence, and stature.  We may assume that our littleness is a sign of worthlessness.  Howeverthis is so far from the truth.  Through our smallness we see a need for God.  We may even crave an intimate connection with the Lord, not fully understanding how such a bond can give us interior peace and joy!

Imagine flying on an eagle's wings seeing the vastness of the earth in all of its richness and beauty.  Let go of the anxiety and worry.  Snuggle up against the immense wings knowing that everything will be okay.  Nothing bad lasts forever when we have Christ and Our Blessed Mother close to the heart.

"I look upon myself as a weak little bird, with only a light down as covering.  I am not an eagle, but I have only an eagle's EYES AND HEART.  In spite of my extreme littleness I still dare to gaze upon the divine Sun, the Sun of Love, and my heart feels within it all the aspirations of an eagle."

-Saint Therese of Lisieux (Feast Day October 1st)

This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin.  Please visit her blog:  Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality

Friday, October 2, 2015

Luke 10:1-2 Find a Partner

Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By SOPHIE DRUFFNER

Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.

“I love my faith.”

I saw that on the Facebook page and started smiling so much I thought my face would hurt. I couldn’t believe it—I had a Catholic friend! A Catholic friend!!!

There’s something so awesome about being able to talk about Catholic moral issues with someone who understands.  There’s something so amazing about sitting over tea with someone, talking about her excitement about seeing the pope in Philadelphia. It’s so nice to finally have someone who gets it.

Finally.

On Wednesdays, I can go to Confession and tell everything I’ve thought about the entire week to the priest. He’s my partner in advancing and developing my faith.

The upperclassmen of University Catholic have so much to tell me about Catholicism and helping me grow in my faith. They’re my partners. They give books to me and hug me and make me feel like I’m part of one big Catholic family.

We’re all part of the Body of Christ. We’re his hands and his feet. And we have to have partners to make it when so many people haven’t heard about Christ and his amazing works. We can find these partners in the Catholic centers of universities, in the pro-life groups in high schools, and in the million and one groups in so many Catholic churches. So make an effort. Find your partner and start evangelizin’! Because “the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few…”, and we have so much work to do.

Hg 1: 3-8 Eat and Be Satisfied

Thursday if the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

By SOPHIE DRUFFNER

Now thus says the LORD of hosts:
Consider your ways!
You have sown much, but have brought in little;
you have eaten, but have not been satisfied;
You have drunk, but have not been exhilarated;
have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed;
And whoever earned wages
earned them for a bag with holes in it.

Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Consider your ways!
Go up into the hill country;
bring timber, and build the house
That I may take pleasure in it
and receive my glory, says the LORD.

We stood in the kitchen of Frassati house at 1:30 AM. “Hail Mary, full of grace…” It had been over a month since college started, and I still could not believe the amazing nature of the people around me. Two other girls and four guys in love with their faith stood, heads bowed, around the kitchen island. It was 1:30 AM in the morning, and we prayed.

Sometimes I’m worried that college isn’t going so well. After I received a 53 on my math test, this thought was confirmed. What was I doing wrong? I had spent hours on math. I had prayed to St. Augustine to help me on the math proofs. I had read the notes twenty times. And then, suddenly, my face smiled and almost not even realizing it, I said “Sophie! Your life is awesome.”
I shocked myself.

But my life really is awesome. I’m eighteen years old, I have a plan for world domination of University Catholic, and I’m learning so much in my math class and biology seminar. My math professor is willing to help me reach a B in his class. The group of University Catholic freshmen is growing. I’m still in touch with most of the friends I made at orientation, and I’ve even started tutoring and teaching violin lessons! And suddenly I thought of how much I was neglecting to count my blessings.

In the reading, Jesus says that we have “eaten, but not been satisfied.” This has happened to me so many times. When I began my freshman year of high school, I thought “Four more years til I’m out of this place! Let’s go!” And suddenly it was three more years, then two, then a year and a half, and finally, days, and I sat in my kitchen and cried because I didn’t want to leave home. The tile floor was cold and my mum was only half-sympathetic until she turned as cold as the floor and told me, “Sophers, be an adult. You’re going away to college. You’re going to be fine.” Talk about tough love.

But I have to remember all my blessings, and I have so many. There’s my lovely floormate who invited me to breakfast with her family when I grew so homesick that I hugged someone else’s sisters. There’s the slow mornings when I can play music and get dressed and I’m not rushed for the 8:10 AM. There’s the beautiful walk to campus—so many trees!—and the huge smile the upperclassmen in UCat always give me. I’ve waited four years to swing dance on top of a parking garage, play Murder in the Dark at 1:00 AM, and run across a lawn with the sprinklers on. I’ve waited four years to learn about Godel’s IncompletemessTheorem: there’s no limit to the human mind! I’ve waited so long and now’s my chance to eat and be satisfied.

So dear reader, eat and be satisfied.. Think about what you have right now, and if that’s hard, just start thinking about a delicious meal that you can make right now without having to go to a campus store. Start thinking, start counting, and then say a prayer to eat, and be satisfied.