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!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jn 16:5-11 Come Holy Spirit

Jn 16:5-11 Come Holy Spirit

(Click here for readings)

“I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you…And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness.”

Come Holy Spirit and fill our hearts with your son’s heart. Enlighten our hearts with Christ’s sacred heart. Unite this world with your word and bring your children into the fullness of the faith. Come Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth.

The days are fast approaching. The moment is at hand. The Good Shepherd will soon fill the hearts of his faithful flock. He will not leave them orphans. The Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Lord’s heart, will come and guide the Apostles feet and enflame their tongues. The Holy Spirit will protect them from condemnation. They will serve the Lord with the angels and all the Saints, now and forever. They will receive their just reward: Paradise! They will shame those who shame God. How? With their love and humility. He will do the same for us if we serve the same for Him.

“Brothers and sisters: Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation.” (Rom 12:9-16)

Gloria Bentivegna of New York City, a devout Roman Catholic, would occasionally play the “Lotto Tree”. Her atheist son, Sal, age 28, told her to, “ask your God for a million dollars.” Of course Gloria, following the Catholic faith, and staying true to her faith, refused to ask God for such a thing. So Sal, jokingly and sarcastically prayed out aloud saying, “God, I don’t know if you’re real or not but if you are there, please let my mother win a million dollars.” Then he added, “If Jesus wants me to believe in him, that’s what he’ll do.”

The following day Gloria bought a Lottery ticket from her Church’s charity auction. As she unscratched the card, Sal was left stunned, speechless, and breathless when she won a million dollars! Realizing that the odds of his mother winning were, well, one-in-a-million (better odds than those for life on earth), Salvatore has come to his senses through reason and become a believer! “I cannot shrug off that Jesus had a hand in it.”

Walter Beals from Asheville, North Carolina, wrote “How nice. Across the globe, starving children with genuine, honest, desperate prayers, and God decides to use his power to ironically answer the mock prayers of some privileged, glutinous, supposed atheist – in order to win that atheists devotion.” Of course, Walter is being sarcastic too. His heart has not yet been moved to understand what the Holy Spirit has revealed to most of us. The Lord provides the miracles we cannot do. He expects us to provide the miracles that we can do. We can easily put an end to poverty and war if we would live the Commandments, and with just the first two: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself! How simple! He later wrote, “Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer” – author unknown. Really? The Church is so balanced in its approach. She would say that we need both. To end poverty we need to put our hands to work. To end war we should put them together and not clasp at anything other than prayer.

Life is so less complicated with Christ Jesus our Lord!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Jn 14:15-21 Delightful People

Jn 14:15-21 Delightful People

(Click here for readings)

“The Lord takes delight in his people.”

The Lord loves people. He is a social God. He loves to interact with his people, especially his holy people, the saints, who are delightful people. What makes someone delightful or pleasing to be around with? What makes someone the apple of God’s eye?

Holy and Human. In today’s first reading, we read what St. Luke experienced at a very personal level. His information is not second hand. In fact, he is writing in first person plural. “We set sail from Troas…We spent some time in that city…We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there…” (Acts 16:11-15). These are the intimate experiences of a disciple of the Lord. The good, the bad and the ugly moments of the disciples are recorded throughout the Gospels. Their doubts and fears, joys and tribulations are made known for our sake; so that we never lose hope or confidence in what is good, right and holy. And at times we can. We know we can. And so did the Apostles. They knew, and so they did not even spare the giants. We know that Paul and Barnabas had a rough relationship. Both were human and yet both are Saints. We know that Paul had some rough words for Peter. And yet, both men are Saints. Why are they delightful in God's eyes? Because they both rose above their petty and insignificant quarrels for God’s greater glory. They did not waste a single second conniving and contracting or gossiping and murmuring against one another. Rather, they separated and no longer talked directly with each other. They prayed for each other and for the other’s mission, and they were both very successful. When will we come to realize that all Christians share a common enemy and that our divisions and quarrels among one another only strengthens and embellishes the ugly grip and strangle hold of the devil on humanity? Do we not realize that the greatest scandal, in Christ’s eyes, is division? Today, the Lord invites his people to be united against Satan. May we fight him and not each other.

Disciplined in Emotions. Up and down, left and right. So many of us have our mood swings. The Lord loves a surprise, but even better than a surprise is a consistent person. The Lord loves a consistent follower who is faithful in the good times and bad. The faithful remained the same, faithful, regardless of the fact that they were thrown out of the synagogues and temple area, and regardless of the fact that they were killed in God's name! Followers of Christ remain the same, just like their Lord, regardless of persecution, for the Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever! Are we surprised that we are called to be the same? Do our emotions place demands on others? Do I change with the seasons or with friends? Am I loving today and very hurtful tomorrow? And so, like the wind, too often we are loved today and hated tomorrow or praised today and prowled tomorrow. I am who I am not because of my past circumstances or because of others. I am who I am because of who lives in me. Is it Christ or is it the other? Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy upon their couches. Let the high praises of God be in their throats. This is the glory of all his faithful.” (Ps. 149:5-6a,9b)

Today is Memorial Day in the United States of America. Today we recognize the young men and women who sacrificed their lives for our beloved nation. They dedicated a good portion of their time on earth in serving our nation. They dedicated their youthfulness in bringing peace around the world. They were human and made mistakes. But they were more than willing to sacrifice their lives for each other and for the ideals enshrined in our Constitution.

I think we can do better as Christian soldiers, fighting for Christ, united with one another in battle and conquering our pride and sin through humility and love. Many souls are waiting for a new spring time offensive! Let us give them what they seek: unity, peace and most of all, Christ.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jn 14:15-21 In God We Place Our Trust

Jn 14:15-21 In God We Place Our Trust

(Click here for readings)

There are a lot of things to be afraid of, like flying, but we should never be afraid of being asked to give a reason for our faith.

Most of my friends know that I do not like to fly. I don’t think it is because we are 30,000 ft above the ground and if we have an accident, well, that’s probably the end of it. I don’t think it's for any logical reason that I fear flying. It is much more dangerous to get in your car and drive down Interstate 635 then it is to get into a plane. This fear is something I have lived with for a while and it has gotten a lot better over the years. But I do remember one incident that was not at all amusing. I was flying to Westchester County airport and as we were landing the winds picked up quite a bit. The plane appeared to be out of control – the wings were flapping up and down and plane was swaying back and forth. Just as we were about to touch the ground, the pilot suddenly pulled the plane up, as if we were taking off. The landing had been aborted.

To a passenger nearby I calmly said, “Ok…not a problem...” To myself, I said, “Is this pilot crazy!? He’s gonna get us all killed!” I took out my hidden rosary and explained to the passenger next to me that it was just about the hour that I usually pray my rosary…and that it had nothing to do with our plane nearly crash landing! He just nodded. I’m sure he didn’t buy that at all.

Once again, the pilot approached the runway and this time the turbulence was worse than before. Just as we were about to land, he aborted for the second time. By now my heart was racing. I was thinking of all my sins and said an Act of Contrition. For the first time, it became very apparent that I was not the only one concerned. An African-American passenger a few rows behind me began to pray quietly but loud enough for everyone to hear. She kept saying over and over again, and with a certain cadence, “Jesus…Jesus…Jesus…Jesus…” I have to be honest and say that that didn’t help me at all.

Mind you, the pilot, throughout the entire time, said NOTHING. It was probably better that way. Finally, after circling the airport, the plane, for the third time, approached the runway and this time it landed. I cannot remember if we began to applaud, but I sure felt like it.

Now, on the opposite side of the aisle, there was a young boy who, throughout the entire time, did not look scared at all. He was about eleven or twelve. Afterwards, I said to him, “Pretty scary.” He said, “Ah…not really…I knew we were going to land.” I said to him, “How did you know.” He looked at me with a big smile and said, “My dad’s the pilot.”

What does all this have to do with today’s Gospel? God is in control of everything! He is the pilot. Why do I believe in God? Because life is absolutely unique, amazing and beautiful. It is lovely! And because of it, death is an unwelcomed guest. If death were natural, we would not complain at all. We would be filled with joy for that moment. We would treat it like everything else. But death, like sin, is an intruder, and we fight it to avoid it! Why do I believe in the Christian God? Because our God revealed himself through the Love of his life: Jesus Christ, who became the love of our life. Jesus Christ is the supreme revelation of God! We know two things about God: God is Love and God is a Father. Is there anyone or anything greater than love, than God? Love and Father are unique names for God. No other religion refers to God as Love or as a Father. Love is given depth through sacrifice. Christ sacrificed it all for us. Love is best defined by giving. Chirst gave it all! Love is most appreciated by the way it forgives. Christ forgave us all. Can we think of anyone superior to Jesus, to His Love? Christ gave it all for us as he forgave all of us. For this reason, Jesus is Lord and God. Why do I believe in the Catholic Church? Because the Eucharist is the most sublime/humble act from our Supreme God of his supreme Love for us? After all, is not love the two becoming one, the consummation of one by the other? We are so envious! We would love to love like that! We would all love to be a eucharistic gift for another – to be so intimate, out of love, with the love of our life. The Eucharist is the ultimate giving of self and the only way in which Christ’s words ring true: “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.”

All the earth can cry out to God with joy. (Ps. 66:1) We can all be confident in Him, through Him and with Him.

End the day well today. Give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear. (1 Pt 3:15-18)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Jn 15:18-21 Chosen

Jn 15:18-21 Chosen

(Click here for readings)

“I have chosen you out of the world.”

It is amazing what Paul and Timothy did. How they shared and spread the Lord’s name far and wide. The “churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number.” This is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: an increase in faith and in numbers.

Recently, I had the pleasure of celebrating Mass at St. Joseph with the Most Reverend Lisane-Christos, the Auxiliary Bishop of Addis Ababa. He has been on a difficult mission in the United States - seeking financial support for his work in Ethiopia. His work is almost entirely evangelization. Hundreds of men, women and children are coming into the Church on a monthly basis, most from that war stricken region of Sudan, Darfur. These people have never heard the name of Jesus Christ and when they do, they fall in love with Him. After Mass, I asked him what he thought of America. He told me that he was very much impressed with our Mass attendance. It reminded him of back home. On a daily basis, we may have up to one hundred souls for Mass. He was surprised and impressed. “It is not like this in Europe”, he remarked. Whew! I was so grateful. Just a few days ago I reminded the congregation that each person must invite another to Mass. After all, our work is not that much different than the Bishop’s. We have all been called to evangelize.

What stops us? A stern warning from the Lord. Jesus reminds us of who we are and where we come from. “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember…”

Yes, remember…it will not be easy. If it is, then it might well mean that something is very wrong. What slows us down? A strong desire for an easy life. We all want it easy, all of us. Imagine a marriage or priest without vows? Imagine a Christian without His Cross? Sounds great! But just think about it. A Christian without His Cross means a Christian without Christ. A marriage without vows is similar to children without discipline! Imagine our roads without rules! I think you get the picture.

But we rebel because the Lord has added an additional burden upon us: to be another Christ. It’s not good enough just to be good. It’s not even good enough to be, yes, nice. It’s not even good enough to be tolerant. The Lord demands from us to be like him and guess what? “They will do all these things - [hate you and persecute you] - on account of my name.”

Here is the Lord’s invitation: I invite you to get out of this world; to no longer be a part of this world. That is, be different. Be unique. Do not consider yourself a citizen of a man-made temporary and shifting world, but of the real world, the world without borders and that never ends. Think of yourself as a soul from Heaven and not as someone limited by gravity. Think of yourself as a gift that came down from Heaven. You live and work in a way that no other lives or works. Your gifts are supernatural: love, forgiveness, compassion, support, mercy and sacrifice. These gifts definitely do not belong to man; they go against his nature, his instinct to survive.

The day wedecide to accept the Lord’s invitation to be out of this world - to be conscious that we do not “belong to the world” - will be the day we change the world and for good.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Jn 15:12-17 Great Love

Jn 15:12-17 Great Love

(Click here for readings)

“It was not you who chose me, but I chose you.”

About a year ago, I invited a young man to come speak to our High School students about Catholicism. He was a recent convert to the faith and his zeal and enthusiasm were very contagious. While we were waiting for the moment to arrive, he sat down in my office and starred at a very beautiful painting of Jesus I had behind my desk. I could tell by the look on his face that something had surprised him. I thought it was just the art work. He told me that he had been thinking about the priesthood for some time and could not get this crazy idea out of his head. So when he sat down and could see his image, his face, superimposed on Christ’s face, well, it brought new meaning to the words, Through Him, with Him, in Him. It all began to make sense for this young man. It literally appeared as though Christ was inside of him and seeing the world through Him.

From an image of Christ came forth a new vocation to the priesthood. After one year of preparation, he will be entering the seminary this summer.

“It was not you who chose me, but I chose you.” To do what? To go bear fruit. So, how is it going? What’s for dinner? After all, what I dish out is what I serve! Am I dishing out poison, meat from strangled animals or blood from my hunting expeditions (cf. Acts 15:22-31)? Do I spread rumors and encourage dissention about this and that? Is the love I give the love I have received? We have all received everything we need! “As the Father loves me, so I love you. Remain in my love.” Today, I need to stop filtering or plugging up The Lord’s divine well of love running through me and allow it to gush forth a spring for the new evangelization!

“I no longer call you slaves but friends.” To serve means to think of someone else as first. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” To serve means to be primarily concerned for another’s well-being rather than my own self-righteousness! To serve means to seek the best for the other. The one who serves is the one who loves, and the one who loves is truly a friend, and a friend is someone who helps you when you cannot do what you should do on your own. A friend is a Good Samaritan. No excuses! I can never forget that what I possess I have received; that all this love comes from the Lord. There is no excuse to not give more, forgive more and love more. I have it all!

“If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.”

Ah…here is the catch! We have to keep the Lord’s commandments. If not, then the axe falls! The only sin that cannot be forgiven is the sin against the Holy Spirit - the refusal to seek forgiveness. It is a catch-22 again. In order to forgive, I must be forgiven. In order to love, I must be loved; that is, I must experience love. It is the nature of things. We know the Lord’s commandments: Love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself. How can God command love? Because he has lived his own commandment of love, but in reverse. We love because he loved us first! He loves us more than himself!

If you go to Church every Sunday and receive His precious body and blood, and if you frequent the Sacrament of Confession, then you have no excuse. These are the two Sacraments of Love: Giving and Forgiving or Consuming and Releasing. If I refuse the Lord’s love, then I will be consumed by my own wrath and relive it forever!

Re-dedicate and consecrate your life to the Lord. Keep the Lord’s commandments and remain in his love.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Jn 15:9-11 Remain In My Love

Jn 15:9-11 Remain In My Love

(Click here for readings)

“As the Father loves me, so I love you. Remain in my love”

What does it mean to remain in Christ’s love? How does one go about doing this? Does it mean to love as Christ loved? If so, then I find myself routinely failing. What can I do if I cannot be any better than the Pharisees and Scribes? Remain in my love is harder than it sounds. Or is it?

The Tremendous Lover. The Lord invites his Apostles, his intimate followers, to follow him in his words, his life, his actions and his way of living. Why? “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” This is the goal of Christian living: to be filled with Christ’s joy. If I am a Christian mom or dad and I get so stressed out over the tiniest of failures – my own failures and the failures of my children and my spouse - then I am not witnessing to others Christ’s love, Christ’s life, Christ’s promise. Joy is a consequence of God’s presence in our life. It is something very Christian, like the resurrection! And yes, joy must be kept even when we are under attack, under the gun and under the weight of the world for all is grace, even death on a Cross. All is given to us by God. Jesus said, “As the Father loves me - in danger of death from the moment of his birth, hidden till the age of thirty, labored and toiled for Twelve men, suffered a horrible passion and death by the age of thirty-three – so I love you. Our life is a love offering, a gift to another. May we never forget this and may we always practice this! God wishes to be present in my life – all of it, from cradle to grave…to the resurrection and life everlasting. Remain in my love means complete Joy!

The Presence of God. If I wish to progress spiritually, I must employ all the means that are available to me. I cannot end a single day without having reflected or meditated upon life’s blessings. This God presence includes so much. It includes (1) daily prayer - oral and heartfelt; (2) spiritual reading to lift up the heart above the labor and toils of the day; (3) an appreciation and understanding of mystery. After all, the future will reveal what today cannot be understood. The presence of God is all around us so why do I walk with my head down? This is what I do. Every day, I make sure that I am in the presence of God through his creation. I might look at the stars at night or marvel at the Moon or Sunset. I might spend a few bright seconds reflecting on laughter that surrounds me as I watch a baseball game or spend time with a family at the supper table. What do I contemplate? That I am present and so are they; that we are living our lives at the same time in history, and that as much as they need me, I need them; that the Lord in his goodness has provided us for each other. All of this is good: nothing unholy, nothing degrading and nothing unworthy of His Majesty. We must always have a realistic - a healthy - attitude towards life. Create a sixth sense, a “sense of wonder.” Look outside. Look inside. Look all around. Look above and be amazed. So much is here. So much love is here. “Remain in my love.”

Proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations (Ps 96:3). Amen. Halleluiah! This is the devout life. This is the life of the Saints, even those who worked in the slums. This is the life that we have all been called to. Give a mighty thanks to God’s mighty providence and let us encourage one another to abandon ourselves to his divine providence. By doing so, we remain in his love.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jn 15:1-8 The True Vine

Jn 15:1-8 The True Vine

(Click here for readings)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower…Remain in me, as I remain in you.”

What is loud and clear from today’s Gospel is that we belong to the Father. In Him we have our life purpose, our value, our joy and fulfillment. He is the vine grower. We grow His Way, in His Time, and through His Life. The vocation to life is a serious one, it demands that we go and bear much fruit; that we do something good and that we continue to grow.

The interesting part of Christ’s analogy is the pruning. Yes, those who bear much fruit must be pruned to bring forth even greater fruit(s). It means less me and more of Him. If not, I may actually begin to think that I am the vine grower, the vine and the branches; that is, that I am God and in control of my own destiny and success. How often do I remind myself that my success is His success? My weaknesses and failures are his doing, his pruning?

Today’s Gospel reminds me of our intimate need to stay connected. We love to socialize; we love to network. The vine, with its branches and roots, is a maze of intricacy and delicacy. What more fitting example of God’s relationship to man, and man’s relationship with creation? Is this not what it is all about? Am I connected with the Lord? Am I connected with my brothers and sisters? Am I living life to the full? Am I connected to what matters most?

This morning I calculated the number of years we waste in our lives. I do not mean time spent resting, studying or eating. No, I mean time wasted surfing the Internet, watching TV and/or playing video games. I communicated my findings to the kids today during Mass. If you spend three hours a day on any of the above items, you will have wasted two years of your life by the age of 25. By the age of 75, you will have wasted fourteen years of your life! Fourteen years!!! When you are on your death bed, believe me, you will have wished you had them back!

Without me you can do nothing. It’s worse than that! Far worse. It should read “Without me you will do great evil”. We really don’t like to hear that; but it is true. Our pride can easily metastasize, causing our roots to go bad and our fruit to spoil. My actions can quickly turn selfish, even childish, if I begin to breathe and believe that my life belongs to me and I can do whatever I want with it. No! We will all serve the Lord, either as a reminder of sin or as a son who has been redeemed.

Pride is the death sentence of many would-be Saints. The Father is the vine grower. He determines all things: when, where and how. The Lord is the Vine; from Him all good things grow and endure. We have all been called into being so as to imitate the only Son. My life is an extension of His Life.

All that I am and all that I do will mean nothing, absolutely nothing, unless the Lord is the root, the vine and the source of my endeavors. So tell the truth, speak up and get out! These words, from the Lord, will keep us from rotting away, for He prunes and nourishes at the same time

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jn 14:27-31a Finally, a Little Piece Of Peace

Jn 14:27-31a Finally, a Little Piece Of Peace

(Click here for readings)

“Do not be afraid…I have conquered the world…The peace I give to you is not a peace the world can give.”

Christ’s peace is an everlasting peace. It is authentic. It is honest. It is real. But it doesn’t always come now. “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). This is true. This is honest. This is a fact.

So, what are we to do? Today, while reflecting on the readings of the day, I was reminded in a unique way why I do my daily meditations. It is so that I have something good and meaningful to share with others. Every day, millions of people receive and send billions of text messages or e-mails to loved ones, friends and even strangers. Unfortunately, a lot of it is junk, meaningless or even downright nasty. As I was reading the Gospel passage for the day, I was blessed with the grace to appreciate the Apostles and disciples of the Lord who took the time to write down, on worthless parchments, priceless and timeless words that would one day bring inspiration to countless nameless and faceless people for centuries! If we did not have these words; if these men did not take the time to write down their reflections and experiences, would we, and the world, not be the poorer for it? Yes, we would. Thank you God for giving us men after your only Son’s heart. “Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom!” (Ps 145:12)

This is a peace we can give: to make known the Father’s glory, his pride and glory: His Son. Have we not been called, on a daily basis, to make Christ’s love known? How can I end the day without having done that? What a waste of time that would be! The earth, the universe, moves forward, never giving back what was wasted. Only the good moves on while the bad fades away. Death only happens once; life continues. Life on earth revolves around the Sun and rotates on its axis for a far deeper reason than science can ever provide. The winters and evenings provide the living being, with an eternal soul, a moment of reflection - time suspension - on what he did or could have done, while never going back or living what is lost.

This is the peace that only Christ can give. “In thinking of what could trouble me at death, that is to say past sin and future punishment, this thought came to me and I have made it my own; it is great consolation to me: at death, when my sins known and unknown trouble me, I will take them all and cast them at Our Lord’s feet to be consumed in the fire of his mercy.” (The Spiritual Direction of Saint Claude De La Colombiere)

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” The peace that Christ, and only Christ, can give is the peace of knowing my life has meaning, my deeds have purpose and my words are eternal as long as they are always united to Him.

“I am going away and I will come back to you.” Christ has died, and only once. Christ is risen, now and forever. Christ will come again is guaranteed. This peace that Christ, and only Christ, can give is the supreme knowledge that I will too have a share in his life on earth and in heaven. This piece is the peace I long for!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Jn 14:21-26 Idol Worship

Jn 14:21-26 Idol Worship

(Click here for readings)

“Can he who made the ear, not hear? Can he who formed the eye, not see? As for me, the Lord will be a stronghold; my God will be the rock where I take refuge.” (Ps 94)

The Lord loves those who keep his commandments. What are his commandments? Love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself. Now, the question is who or what do I love? There can only be two options: Idols or God.

What is an idol? “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them” (Ps 135:15-18).

Before we brush off these pagan beliefs as archaic and the result of a poor education, we should note that some very modern men in the United States spent millions of dollars promoting the Day of Judgment or Rapture (May 21st, 2011). And before we brush these guys off as being ignorant too, let us not forget the comments made last week from the far too intelligent scientist Stephen Hawking, who claimed “there is no heaven…That is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” Now Hawking might very well be a great scientist, but when he begins to mix science with revelation, he becomes an ideologist, and that never looks pretty. Where is the great clamor of disgust among the scientific community? After all, didn’t this type of interference between religion and science tarnish the Catholic Church’s reputation for centuries? Again, we see that the scientific community cannot regulate itself. They can do and say whatever they want and get away with it. Dangerous “science” brought to you by dangerous scientists, and all in the name of progress. Even progress has joined the growing list of certain idolatries.

Well, not much has changed in terms of idols except for the fact that some of our idols can speak, walk and talk. We still worship man as god. Yes, like it or not, we still worship the human person, the Hollywood star, as a certain god. But what is the opposite of the idol? Is a Saint an idol? No. He is an icon.

“Whoever loves me will be loved by the Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him…Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”

My sheep hear know my voice, they trust me and follow me (cf. Jn 10:27). The Greeks heard Paul and Barnabas speak words of wisdom. They heard Christ in their voices. They immediately recognized God in Paul and Barnabas, but they mistook them for being gods! It was a sincere mistake and therefore easily corrected, No, no…“It is no longer I who live in me, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2:20)

The Lord has makes his dwelling in those who speak in his name. The Lord dwells in love. And the man who speaks The Word will be One with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. Love consumes, and for this reason we consume and are consumed in the body of Christ.

The alternative is the idol. “No truth can be found in their mouths, their heart is all mischief, their throat a wide-open grave, all honey their speech” (Ps 5:12). The idol(s) lusts for attention, shining in silver and gold - in false appearances, and in seeking reverence and relevance.

Brothers and sisters, listen to the holy words of St. Paul, “The word is near to you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we preach), for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.” (Rm 10:8b-10)

The Saint is not an idol; he is another Christ. And this is the way Christ wanted it. All honor, all glory to you almighty God! Amen.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jn 14:1-10 Troubled Hearts Part II

Jn 14:1-10 Troubled Hearts Part II
(Click here for readings)

It seems as though the Church wishes to emphasize this reading. Within a week we have read this passage twice, and so Church gives us another opportunity to reflect upon it.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith in me.”
Recently I read an article entitled, “Things I would do differently” ...or something like that. It must have been written for those who are experiencing a mid-life crisis. The list included: Love who you are, Have more fun, Character really counts, Awkwardness fades, Memories fade too, Think of your career, Don’t rush, Tune out the haters.

How different the Lord is when it comes to advice! On the night he was betrayed, he gave his Apostles the best advice ever: Do not let your hearts be troubled. I am with you. I will always be with you. I will never abandon you. There is nothing to fear; nothing that is outside of my power.

The stone rejected as become the cornerstone. I believe what brings us to a mid-life crisis is when we begin to examine our past. That is, when we finally come to terms with what we did long ago. How we threw Jesus away! You know, when we thought we could live our lives without Him? Maybe that moment was after confirmation or after a dance or prom? Maybe it was during our Senior year - in celebration of our all-important graduation? The list of all the "Things I could do differently" will never be complete if I do not include allowing the Lord to be the cornerstone of my life.

Christ invites his disciples to abandon themselves to God’s providence, to follow Him more closely, to change directions, to change our route, our path.

As I mentioned before, what makes a great story is its ending, a surprise ending, an ending different from the beginning. So instead of an eye for an eye, or tooth for a tooth, the Lord invites us to not get stressed when others are stressed; to trust when in doubt, to not cuss when cussed at and to not bully when bullied! This is the beginning of a new ending!

Temptations, when defeated, are a great opportunity to show who is first in our life. Temptation won leads to God’s glory! Temptations are not an invitation to get further away from the Lord but to do things differently – the right way! It is an invitation to change our lives and the story of our lives!

Be patient for the Lord is patient. Thomas said, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” The Lord’s response is one of patience. He understands that this is a teaching moment. If Thomas had not asked this question, we would never be in possession of one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

“Beloved: Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4)

Heavenly Father, you gave the world your heart, the heart of your Son Jesus Christ, to fill our hearts with his peace. Grant us the strength and courage to follow in your son's footsteps, to end the world of boredom and to give it the joy and peace it seeks. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jn 14:7-14 Finding God

Jn 14:7-14 Finding God

(Click here for readings)

“If you know me, then you will also know my Father…Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

How can we find God? I think the answer rests in the Instruction Manual, in the Holy Bible: “Go throughout the world and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And remember, I will be with you till the end of time.” A great way for anyone to find God is to see Him in his people.

Someone once told me a delightful story. I cannot remember where or when it took place. I just remember the most important part of the story. It goes something like this: A parishioner asked the local pastor if he could put him in contact with someone who was on fire for the Lord. The pastor instinctively said, “Of course.” But when he began to think about it, he could not think of a single name in his parish. So what did he do? He resolved to be that person! He brought his parish back to life. I would not be surprised if that parishioner was the Lord.

A great way for anyone to find God is to see Him in his people. But the best way to find God is to seek Him. This is what happened to Andre Frossard. He was born in France in 1915. His parents were members of the Communist Party. His Father was the first Secretary General (head) of that party! He was educated in a totally atheistic environment. He encountered the Lord at the age of twenty and in a very surprising way. While waiting at a bus stop he decided to enter, for the first time in his life, a Church. It was a Catholic Church. He walked in at 5:10 pm an atheist and walked out at 5:15 pm a “Catholic, Apostolic and Roman! In his hard-to-find autobiography, God Exists and I have Met Him, he writes “When I walked into the Church I was twenty years old. When I walked out I was a child, ready to be baptized.” He became a world renowned journalist and a great defender of the faith. He was also somewhat of a prophet. When Blessed John Paul II was elected Pope, he wired his French newspaper, “This is not a Pope from Poland. This is a Pope from Galilee.” He was right!

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these.”

What are some of things we can do to help others find God? 1) We should take time, on a daily basis, to meditate on the life of the Lord so that we can offer our friends (and strangers) someone other than ourselves. 2) We should offer up our prayers for those who are in need, and let them know that they and their intentions are being looked after. 3) We should always invite non-Catholics to the Catholic Church. After all, it is a gift that many of us received from birth. And if that is the case, then you should know why: We have been called to be in the front lines of the new evangelization. 4) We should never turn our backs on anyone, not even the hardest of basket cases.

This past Easter, over 900 former Anglicans were received into the Catholic Church, including sixty-one former Church of England priests. The priest shortage in England just officially came to an end. The Lord provided in a way that had never been imagined! Once again, it is a sign from God that he loves his Church. Even the recent scandals are a sign of God’s love for His Church: He is purging and purifying at the same time. He is making holy his bride.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Jn 14:1-4 Troubled Hearts

Jn 14:1-4 Troubled Hearts

(Click here for readings)

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.”

Not too long ago a young man asked me an all too common question. “Father, do you always need to go to Confession to get all your sins forgiven?” I told him, “No, only for the worst sins.” He shook his head, looked at me with the saddest eyes and said, “That’s why Confession is so hard! Why does it have to be for the worst things?” I asked him, “Why are you looking so sad? Don’t you remember? Or have you forgotten? Confession is only for the worst sins, when you hate yourself the most, because that's when you need to hear Christ's love for you the most.”

Troubled hearts are broken hearts and broken hearts are the result of sin. My sins makes it very hard to believe in God, in others and even in myself. Our fallen nature, our sins, can make us feel as if life is hard and almost not worth living! But we must never forget that sin is the lens that distorts our vision - our view towards God, towards others and even towards ourselves. Sin makes us short-sighted, near-sighted, and for this reason we experience tunnel vision far too often. Sin has turned us into inferior creatures, and we were never created to be inferior. Due to sin, we can only see what is in front of us, close up, but never the obvious. Yes, we are damaged. We can’t go beyond our sight to the reality of faith. Faith helps man recover his vision and reach the Heavens. The Lord helps us to see, with new eyes, the Father’s revelation for he is the Father’s word made flesh, visible! We know God because we know Christ. As G.K. Chesterton points out, “Revelation means to reveal reality. What makes a religion? Revelation. Revelation is a religion…it is a vision, and a vision received by faith; but it is a vision of reality. Faith consists in a conviction of its reality.”

Believe God; believe also in me means we don’t have to resort to human inventions for explanations. There is a difference between myths and religion, because there is a difference between day dreams and visions. It is the difference between telling a ghost story and seeing a ghost (G.K. Chesterton).

Jesus invites us to have eyes open to Him, and we know the eyes are the means to the heart. “Do not let your hearts be troubled…I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” There is nothing more important in life than knowing the Way to live it, the Truth behind it and the expectancy of it. The vision in the Upper Room was a reality; it shaped the lives of Eleven Men. The Twelfth man had gone missing because he thought he knew the end of the story. His life was lived like his faith: short-sighted and short.

The Apostles had their eyes opened on the day of Pentecost and they remained opened until angry men shut them tight forever. But before they did, the disciples had multiplied and reached the ends of the earth. They had made it through the valleys of tears to tell men and women of good will the Good News that would last forever, for truth endures the test of time and men!

What makes a great story? A great ending. And a great ending is a surprise ending. The Lord gave us a surprise beyond all our imagining!

Sin destroys happy endings and makes them boring. Sin creates an ending similar to its beginning: an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, a face for a face. How boring! The Lord invites us, through his passion and resurrection, to try something different the next time we are tempted! Instead of succumbing to retaliation or revenge, try forgiving…for they know not what they do! That will always make a fantastic love story; a great ending that settles our hearts for good.