Monthly Archives: February 2017

02/28/17

With these words from the prophet Joel we will begin the Liturgy of the Word commencing our Lenten journey on Wednesday:

Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.

 

The spiritual heart is where the kingdom of God should reign so that God controls everything in our lives. I shared a wonderful story at Mass this past weekend about a beggar who lived as a king in the kingdom of God:

A holy man greeted a beggar, “God give you a good day,” The beggar responded by saying, “I thank God, sir, that I never had a bad one. I thank God that I am never unhappy.” In amazement the holy man asked the beggar what he meant. “Well,” said the beggar, “when it is fine, I thank God; when it rains, I thank God; when I have plenty, I thank God; when I am hungry, I thank God; and since God’s will is my will, and whatever pleases God pleases me… then why should I say I am unhappy when I am not?” The holy man then asked the beggar, “Who are you?” The beggar replied, “I am a king.” “Where then is your kingdom?” asked the holy man. The beggar answered quietly: “In my heart.”

 

Pope Paul VI spoke about rending our hearts and not our garments with the following words:

The kingdom of God announced by Christ can be entered only by a “change of heart” (“metanoia”) that is to say through that intimate and total change and renewal of the entire man—of all his opinions, judgments and decisions—which takes place in him in the light of the sanctity and charity of God, the sanctity and charity which were manifested to us in the Son and communicated fully

 

On Ash Wednesday, Jesus will encourage us to be people of prayer especially during the penitential season of Lent. Let me share with you a prayer about a change of heart that is attributed to Saint Alphonsus Liguori:

O my beloved Redeemer, behold my heart. I give it wholly to you: it is no longer mine, but yours. When you came into the world you offered to the Eternal Father, offered and gave your whole will … Therefore, O beloved Savior, I offer you my whole will today. Formerly it rebelled against you; through it I offended you. But now, with all my heart, I regret the use I made of it: …I am deeply sorry and now dedicate this will to you, holding nothing back. Lord, tell me what you want of me: I am ready to carry out everything you desire. Do with me and with all that is mine as is pleasing to you: I accept all, I consent to all. I know that you seek what is best for me: «Into your hands I commend my spirit»

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02/27/17

With Lent beginning Wednesday, let me share with you an article from the magazine Celebration. The magazine has monthly articles for those of us who preach. The article by Moira Bucciarelli is titled Law and Order (and Grace) and was in the March, 2017 issue of Celebration.

During Lent we contemplate sin in the world and in ourselves. The Gospel of Matthew gives us a way to think about sin by looking at its inverse partner: law. For without law there might be no sin or consequences for it. Matthew can usually be counted on to remind us of this connection in the most unsettling of ways: “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away” (Matthew 5:29).

Upon hearing these words, one could ask: “Why is Matthew so harsh? What happened to the God of love and mercy? Matthew lived with an expectation that the end times were imminent. His community had to get right with God (and with each other) — fast. Or in Matthew’s language they needed to become more righteous. We can relate to this urgency because our physical bodies have their own built-in apocalypse: death. Why not reconcile with God and neighbor before we leave this world?

Similar to the Hebrew prophets, Matthew uses shock value as a rhetorical device. By being extreme and dramatic, Matthew rouses the sleepers nodding off in the back pews. He does not mean that you should literally gouge out your eye. But in the words of our Buddhist friends, he does want you to wake up.

Matthew reminds us how easy it is to focus on the big sins, and write off our smaller ones. To that end, one could say, “Well, I never murdered anyone, or stole anything, so I’m basically okay!” “No,” says Matthew. Even as you call someone an idiot as they fail to signal their lane — you are drawing from the very same well as the one who takes another’s life. It is poor moral reasoning — to equate murder with a slip of the tongue. But here Jesus calls our attention to the sources of our minor sins: egotism, fear, arrogance, anger, a desire to control. Jesus calls us to honesty, to self-awareness, and more importantly, to reconciling actions.

The British Catholic writer Graham Greene knew this truth. In his novella, The Power and the Glory, an alcoholic Catholic priest in Mexico during the 1930s thinks to himself: That was another mystery: it sometimes seemed to him that venial sins — impatience, an unimportant lie, pride, a neglected opportunity — cut you off from grace more completely than the worst sins of all.

Martin Luther, the former Catholic monk who became the leader of the Protestant Reformation, was obsessed with sin and law. Why? Because for Luther, sin was connected to justice. If God was just, that meant that evildoers would be punished and the righteous rewarded.

For Luther, the world would make no sense if villains could bully, steal, lie, cheat, oppress, murder and abuse without any consequences. And like Matthew, Luther did not see a question of degree; even a small sin could derail one’s ultimate destiny. As a result Luther became a compulsive penitent. Luther could never be certain he had confessed all his sins and so could never be sin-free. Thankfully, Luther had a wise confessor, who told him to read the mystics for they know a God of love. Luther didn’t settle on the God of love, but through love, he came to grace — the idea that God fills our gaps. He

saw that to dig ourselves out of our self-made holes, we will always need that mystery of grace, that gentle spirit that makes us better than we ever could be on our own. We tend to think of law in terms of obedience or a measuring stick — or worse, checking boxes. But what if we think of law as a call to conscience, which at its root is a call to self-awareness?

Like Luther, Matthew and Greene, we can take seriously those thoughts, actions and impulses that lead us away from God, or that harm ourselves or others. We can do the uncomfortable work that is called an examination of conscience. The Jesuit spiritual master Ignatius of Loyola recommended that we do this every evening before we fall asleep. Perhaps this is a Lenten practice calling out to each one of us.

This practice does not mean beating ourselves up and never feeling good enough. (Sadly, Catholics have been all too good at that.) Rather it is an exercise in self-awareness, in honesty, and a renewal of our desire to be closer to God and to others. As we journey through this season of Lent we seek an interior repentance. In words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that repentance is “a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart … At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of [God’s] grace”(#1431).

May these forty days help each of us discern the careful balance between law, order and grace.

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02/26/17

In 1 Corinthians, Saint Paul speaks of the cross with some of the following statements:

  • For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning. The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. [v.17,18]
  • For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. [v. 22-24

When the Sunday lectionary was using the beginning of the letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, we unfortunately skipped over these important verses. Several days from now we will be marked with ashes in the shape of a cross. We might reflect on what the cross means to us.

Another reason that I mention the cross comes from an article that I read yesterday. With Christians being persecuted in the Middle East, the cross is a symbol that many in that part of the world don’

t understand or reject. Recently some Iraqi Christians raised a large cross over Mosul, a town that had been recaptured from ISIS. Let me share with the article for your reflection today

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The Chaldean Catholic patriarch of Baghdad blessed the large cross and participated in the celebration of the first Mass after two and a half years.

CNA/EWTN News Feb. 24, 2017MOSUL, Iraq —

After years of darkness, hope has returned to Telekuf-Tesqopa. Located just 17 miles from Mosul, the village is rebuilding after being liberated from ISIS.On Feb. 18, the Chaldean Catholic patriarch of Baghdad, Louis Sako, visited the village, where he blessed the large cross and participated in the celebration of the first Mass after two and a half years in St. George Church.In his homily, Patriarch Sako said that this event is “the first spark of light shining in all the cities of the Nineveh Plain since the darkness of ISIS, which lasted almost two and a half years.”The patriarch said that Christians will thus demonstrate to the world that the forces of darkness, which wreaked havoc and ravaged their land, are ephemeral and that the Church of Christ, although it suffers, is built upon rock.The Catholic patriarch said that this cross will announce “to the world that this is our land, we were born here, and we will die here. Our ancestors were buried in this pure land, and we are going to remain to preserve them with all our might and for future generations.”Before the celebration of the Mass, a delegation came to Telekuf-Tesqopa to assess the state of damage and to ask for the support of international organizations for reconstruction. St. George Church was cleaned by volunteers from the French aid organization SOS Chrétiens d’Orient. (SOS Christians of the East).In every village liberated on the Plain of Nineveh, Christians have made wooden crosses and have placed them on the roofs of churches and homes.This action is part of a campaign that seeks to remember the religious coexistence that was present in the city before the jihadists occupied it in 2014.

  • Muslims have also participated in these events. Last week, a group of Muslims youths joined those cleaning a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary located in east Mosul, liberated by the Iraqi Army.
  • The placement of crosses has become a recurring gesture since the Iraqi Army began the offensive to recover the city of Mosul, the ISIS stronghold in Iraq.
  • “It is a sincere and great call to return and rebuild. We are joined to our land, to our future on the land of our ancestors. Here we can be proud of our history, and here we can obtain the granting of all our rights,” Patriarch Sako said.
  • When the Mass was over, everyone went out to a hill located on the outskirts of the city. There, Patriarch Sako blessed the huge cross, which was raised amid fireworks and with cries of “Victory! Victory! Victory! For those who chose the faith and those who return!”
  • “This is our land, and this is our home,” he told the faithful. He also said that now is the time to regain hope and for the people to return to their towns to begin a new stage of life.
  • According to the website of the Patriarchate of Babylon, the authorities and officials of the region were present at the celebration.
  • As a visible sign of the rebuilding, a giant cross was erected on a hill, marking the victory of the Christian faith against the darkness of the jihadists.
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02/24/17

If we are following the national news, we know that there are strong feelings being expressed regarding the immigration laws of our country. We see the protests and the legal actions being taken both by those who are for and against stricter enforcement of the immigration laws. But have we thought about the people who are affected by the immigration situation? Every Catholic Church in this archdiocese has some percentage of Hispanic parishioners, some who are legally here and some who are not. There is an incredible amount of fear in the lives of our fellow parishioners over the immigration situation. Some have lived for years in the United States, illegally yes but never having been in trouble with the law. Their children are American citizens by birth in this country. If one of the parents is deported, what happens to the other spouse? Stay here with the children who are citizens? Join his/her spouse and leave the children with friends or relatives? Take the children back to the parent’s country of origin and to a culture and a country that the children may be completely unfamiliar with? As compassionate people, we certainly have to be affected by the fear and suffering that is going among the members of the body of Christ, fellow parishioners in our churches.

Pope Francis spoke at a conference about the migration issue. In his speech, he mentioned 4 verbs that should guide us in regards to the immigration issue. I share with you a summary of the speech that I found on www.zenit.org. If you want to read the actual speech, please go the Vatican web page, http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/events/event.dir.html/content/vaticanevents/en/2017/2/21/forum-migrazioniepace.html

 

Pope’s 4 Verbs on Migration: Welcome, Protect, Promote, Integrate

 

Speaking to International Forum on Migration and Peace, Francis Appeals: ‘For those who flee conflicts and terrible persecutions, often trapped within the grip of criminal organizations who have no scruples, we need to open accessible and secure humanitarian channels’

“Before this complex panorama, I feel the need to express particular concern for the forced nature of many contemporary migratory movements, which increases the challenges presented to the political community, to civil society and to the Church, and which amplifies the urgency for a coordinated and effective response to these challenges.”

Pope Francis stressed this in his address to participants of an International Forum on Migration and Peace taking place in Rome, whom he received in the Vatican this morning, noting his conviction that their shared response may be articulated by four verbs: “welcome, protect, promote and integrate.”

Organized by the new Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development in collaboration with the Scalabrini International Migration Network, the two-day international forum aims to stimulate dialogue on the root causes of migration and to elaborate and propose the best solutions for an ethical approach on the international management of migration, as well as the integration of migrants in hosting communities, and to concretely influence migration policies and practices.

Discussing welcome, Francis said: “Rejection is an attitude we all share; it makes us see our neighbour not as a brother or sister to be accepted, but as unworthy of our attention, a rival, or someone to be bent to our will”

Faced with this kind of rejection, rooted ultimately in self-centredness and amplified by populist rhetoric, he added, “what is needed is a change of attitude, to overcome indifference and to counter fears with a generous approach of welcoming those who knock at our doors.

“For those who flee conflicts and terrible persecutions, often trapped within the grip of criminal organisations who have no scruples, we need to open accessible and secure humanitarian channels.”

Turning to protecting, Francis stressed that defending their inalienable rights, ensuring their fundamental freedoms and respecting their dignity are duties from which no one can be exempted.

“Protecting these brothers and sisters is a moral imperative which translates into adopting juridical instruments, both international and national, that must be clear and relevant; implementing just and far reaching political choices; prioritizing constructive processes, which perhaps are slower, over immediate results of consensus; implementing timely and humane programs in the fight against ‘the trafficking of human flesh’; which profits off others’ misfortune; coordinating the efforts of all actors, among which, you may be assured will always be the Church.”

Turning to promoting, Francis stated that protecting is not enough, and said that “what is required” is the promotion of an integral human development of migrants, exiles and refugees.

And for integration, he clarified this refers neither assimilation nor incorporation, “a two-way process, rooted essentially in the joint recognition of the other’s cultural richness: it is not the superimposing of one culture over another, nor mutual isolation, with the insidious and dangerous risk of creating ghettoes.”

“I believe that conjugating these four verbs, in the first person singular and in the first person plural,” Francis stated, “is today a responsibility, a duty we have towards our brothers and sisters who, for various reasons, have been forced to leave their homeland,” a duty namely of three types, he explained, of justice, civility and solidarity.

Pope Francis concluded, stating his hope that these two days will bear abundant fruit, assuring them of his prayers, and reminding them to pray for him.

 

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02/23/17

Today we celebrate the martyr, Saint Polycarp, who died around 155A.D. He is historically important because he knew Saint John, the apostle as well as Saint Irenaeus, who wrote extensively about the defensive of the faith at the end of the second century. In other words, there was a connection to the first apostles throughout the second century by means of Saint Polycarp: Saint John —- Saint Polycarp —- Saint Irenaeus.

Polycarp is a wonderful example of the commitment that Jesus’ disciples must show. Let me share with you a letter describing the martyr’s death. He certainly was a bold witness for Christ until the end of his life.

 

As Polycarp entered the amphitheatre, a voice from heaven said: «Be strong, Polycarp, and have courage.» No one saw who was speaking, but those of our people who were present heard the voice… A great shout arose when the people heard that it was Polycarp who had been arrested. As he was brought before him, the governor asked him: «Are you Polycarp?» And when he admitted he was, the governor tried to persuade him to recant, saying: «Have respect for your age»… «swear by the Genius of the emperor. Recant…  Curse Christ!» But Polycarp answered: «For eighty-six years I have been his servant and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my king and savior?»        But as the other insisted once again… Polycarp answered: «If you delude yourself into thinking that I will swear by the emperor’s Genius, as you say, and if you pretend not to know who I am, listen and I will tell you plainly: I am a Christian. And if you would like to learn the doctrine of Christianity, set aside a day and listen.» The governor said: «Try to move the people.» And Polycarp said: «I should have thought you worthy of such a discussion. For we have been taught to pay respect to the authorities and powers that God has assigned us (for this does not harm our cause). But as for the mob, I do not think they deserve to listen to a speech of defence from me.»        The governor said: «I have wild animals, and I shall expose you to them if you do not change your mind.» And he answered: «Go and call for them!»… He said again to him: «Since you are not afraid of the animals, then I shall have you consumed by fire-unless you change your mind.» But Polycarp answered: «The fire you threaten me with burns merely for a time and is soon extinguished. It is clear you are ignorant of the fire of everlasting punishment and of the judgement that is to come, which awaits the impious. Why then do you hesitate? Come, do what you will.»        All of this happened with great speed, more quickly than it takes to tell the story: the mob swiftly collected logs and brushwood from workshops and baths… When the fire was prepared, Polycarp took off all his clothing, loosed his belt and even tried to take off his own sandals, although he had never had to do this before: for all the Christians were always eager to be the first to touch his flesh. Even before his martyrdom he had been adorned in every way by reason of the goodness of his life.

 

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02/22/17

My son, when you come to serve the LORD, stand in justice and fear, prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast, incline your ear and receive the word of understanding, undisturbed in time of adversity. Wait on God, with patience, cling to him, forsake him not; thus will you be wise in all your ways. Accept whatever befalls you, when sorrowful, be steadfast, and in crushing misfortune be patient; For in fire gold and silver are tested, and worthy people in the crucible of humiliation. Trust God and God will help you; trust in him, and he will direct your way; keep his fear and grow old therein. You who fear the LORD, wait for his mercy, turn not away lest you fall. You who fear the LORD, trust him, and your reward will not be lost. You who fear the LORD, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy. You who fear the LORD, love him, and your hearts will be enlightened. Study the generations long past and understand; has anyone hoped in the LORD and been disappointed? Has anyone persevered in his commandments and been forsaken? Has anyone called upon him and been rebuffed? Compassionate and merciful is the LORD; he forgives sins, he saves in time of trouble and he is a protector to all who seek him in truth.

 

I have always remembered these verses from Sirach 2:1-11. It was the first reading at yesterday’s Mass. Maybe because Sirach is not one of the books that we have frequently read – or maybe we did not even know that it is the in the bible – I was struck by this reading when I first heard of it in the seminary. My son, when you come to serve the LORD, stand in justice and fear, prepare yourself for trials. Certainly with the academic struggles in the seminary I could certainly identify with this verse from Sirach.

Another struggle is with serving the Lord. If Jesus is Lord, then we cannot be the lord of our lives. There is only one. To let Jesus be the center of my life is certainly a struggle. In the book, The Shack, there is a wonderful passage that speaks to our struggle with having Jesus as Lord. A young girl was murdered and the dad was angry at God. God invited the dad to a retreat. As the dad’s heart began to soften, God said to Mack, the dad:

“Mack, I don’t want to be the first among a list of values; I want to be at the center of everything. When I live in you, then together we can live through everything that happens to you. Rather than a pyramid, I want to be the center of a mobile, where everything in your life – your family, friends, occupation, thoughts, activities – is connected to me but moves with the wind, in and out and back and forth, in an incredible dance of being.

 

That is a wonderful description of Jesus being Lord of our lives. A challenge? Yes!

Another challenge is that of coming to serve the Lord. Jesus described His life in Mark 10:45 as that of coming to serve and not be served. At the Last Supper as Jesus washed the disciples feet (and ours as well?), He told them (us) that He was leaving us an example. What He had done for us – an act of humble service – we must do for one another. I wonder when I am speaking to a couple during marriage preparation if they really understand the obligations of the sacrament of matrimony. In the Catholic Catechism 1534, the sacraments of matrimony and holy orders are described with the following words:

Two other sacraments, Holy Orders and Matrimony, are directed towards the salvation of others; if they contribute as well to personal salvation, it is through service to others that they do so. They confer a particular mission in the Church and serve to build up the People of God.

 

The mission to lay down one’s life for someone else is a mission that married couples and priests/religious have made a commitment to fulfill. For all others, they are still in training. They are called to practice this same sacrificial giving, just in case the Lord calls them to one of these two vocations. Serving is the way to grow in holiness and to practice holiness.

My son, when you come to serve the LORD, stand in justice and fear, prepare yourself for trials. The challenge is to not face these trials alone. As God told Saint Paul in 2 Corinthians 12: my grace is sufficient for you. Power is made perfect in weakness.

 

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02/20/17

In Sunday’s gospel, Matthew 5:38-48, Jesus presented us with some difficult requirements for discipleship. Probably the most difficult and most misunderstood teaching is:

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on (your) right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.

Often Jesus’ teaching is interpreted to mean that we are not to respond to violence or to injustices. If that were true, then the kingdom of heaven, which is one of justice, love and peace, would never grow. And yet the kingdom of heaven is Jesus’ principal message.

Bishop Robert Barron had an interesting explanation of this often-misunderstood passage from Matthew 5 in his daily (web) reflection for Sunday, February 19. Let me share with you his thoughts:

 

Friends, our Gospel today is taken from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. It is one of the puzzling texts in the New Testament. It speaks of loving our enemies. Not tolerating them, or vaguely accepting them, but loving them. When you hate your enemy, you confirm him as your enemy. But when you love him in response to his hatred, you confuse and confound him, taking away the very energy that feeds his hatred.

There is a form of oriental martial arts called aikido. The idea of aikido is to absorb the aggressive energy of your opponent, moving with it, continually frustrating him until he comes to the point of realizing that fighting is useless.

Some have pointed out that there is a great deal of this in Jesus’ strategy of nonviolence and love of the enemy. You creatively absorb the aggression of your opponent, channeling it back against him, to show him the futility of violence. So when someone insults you, send back a compliment instead of an insult. When someone conspires against you, work to help him.

 

Turning our cheek then is our creative way to restore the unity of the Body of Christ which has been damaged by someone’s sinful action. It is a loving way to help the other person see the damage caused by his/her injustice. It is a way of love and peace. And yes Jesus’ way is a more difficult way to respond to the harmful words and hurtful actions that others do. But as temples of God’s Spirit, we have the spirit of power, love, and self-control inside of us.

Turning the other cheek also requires patience. St. Cyprian of Carthage spoke of this:

 

“What I say to you is: offer no resistance to injury.”

     “Bear with one another lovingly and make every effort to preserve the unity which has the Spirit as its origin and peace as its binding force.” (cf. Eph 4:2f.) It is not possible to maintain unity or peace if the brothers don’t make every effort to remain tolerant of one another and to keep the bond of harmony, which comes from patience…        How can a person succeed in accomplishing that if he is not firm in patience and tolerant? That is what Saint Stephen did when, far from crying out for revenge, he asked that his executors be forgiven, saying: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” (Acts 7:60) That is how the first martyr for Christ behaved. He was not only a preacher of the Lord’s passion, but he also imitated his extreme gentleness.       What can we say concerning anger, discord, hypocrisy? They have no place in the life of a Christian. He must have patience in his heart; thus none of the vices will be found there. The apostle Paul warned us of this: “Do nothing to sadden the Holy Spirit… Get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander, and malice of every kind.” (Eph 4:30-31) If the Christian becomes established in peace, in Christ’s harbor, he must allow neither anger nor discord to enter his heart; he is neither allowed to return evil for evil nor to conceive hatred.

 

 

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02/19/17

In yesterday’s blog, I gave everyone a homework assignment to read Saint Francis Xavier’s words that he wrote in a letter while on a missionary journey in Japan:

This country… is very dangerous as the inhabitants – who are full of treachery – often mix poison with the food and drink. That is why no one can be found to go and concern themselves with Christians. Yet these have need of spiritual teaching and of someone to baptize them in order to save their souls. That is the reason I feel an obligation to lose my bodily life so as to bring help to my neighbor’s spiritual life… I place my hope and confidence in God our Lord together with the desire to conform myself, according to my poor, weak means, to the word of Christ, our Redeemer and Lord: “Whoever wishes to save their life will lose it; and whoever loses their life for my sake, will keep it”…  It is certainly easy to understand the words and general meaning of this saying of our Lord; however when one wants to put it into practice and make up one’s mind to lose one’s life for God so as to find it again in him, when one exposes oneself to dangers in which one pushes the probability of leaving one’s life among them…, then everything becomes so dark that these words, although so clear, become darkened too. In cases such as this, it seems to me, he alone will come to understand – however learned he may be – to whom God our Lord, in his infinite mercy, condescends to explain it in his particular circumstances. It is then one realizes the condition of our mortal flesh, namely how weak and feeble it is.

 

And explain how the saint’s words fulfill what Jesus asked of His disciples in Mark’s gospel:

 

Mark 8:34-38: He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Let me share with you some of my thoughts:

 

Take up one’s cross: the people are trying to kill the Christian missionaries with poison but the saint continues his work: This country… is very dangerous as the inhabitants – who are full of treachery – often mix poison with the food and drink. That is why no one can be found to go and concern themselves with Christians.

Follow me: Mother Teresa has placed beneath the cross in her religious orders’ chapels Jesus words I Thirst which He uttered on the cross just before dying. Mother Teresa felt that Jesus said these words because He thirsts for souls. Like Saint Francis Xavier thirsted for souls: Yet these have need of spiritual teaching and of someone to baptize them in order to save their souls.

Deny oneself: That is the reason I feel an obligation to lose my bodily life so as to bring help to my neighbor’s spiritual life.

Not ashamed of Christ and being His follower: Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

  • I place my hope and confidence in God our Lord together with the desire to conform myself, according to my poor, weak means, to the word of Christ, our Redeemer and Lord: “Whoever wishes to save their life will lose it; and whoever loses their life for my sake, will keep it”… 
  • It is certainly easy to understand the words and general meaning of this saying of our Lord; however when one wants to put it into practice and make up one’s mind to lose one’s life for God so as to find it again in him, when one exposes oneself to dangers in which one pushes the probability of leaving one’s life among them…, then everything becomes so dark that these words, although so clear, become darkened too. In cases such as this, it seems to me, he alone will come to understand – however learned he may be – to whom God our Lord, in his infinite mercy, condescends to explain it in his particular circumstances. It is then one realizes the condition of our mortal flesh, namely how weak and feeble it is.

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02/18/17

Yesterday at Mass, Jesus succinctly described what is required of us if we want to be His disciple:

Mark 8:34-38: He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

I was reading a letter by Saint Francis Xavier, a Jesuit missionary to Japan and other Asian countries. In the letter he touched upon the underlined parts of Jesus’ words in Mark’s gospel. For your homework, dear blog readers, please read the letter by Saint Francis Xavier and tell me where the saint fulfills Jesus’ words. If you don’t finish this homework assignment by Monday, I will refer you to the principal. So please don’t procrastinate with your homework assignment.

This country… is very dangerous as the inhabitants – who are full of treachery – often mix poison with the food and drink. That is why no one can be found to go and concern themselves with Christians. Yet these have need of spiritual teaching and of someone to baptize them in order to save their souls. That is the reason I feel an obligation to lose my bodily life so as to bring help to my neighbor’s spiritual life… I place my hope and confidence in God our Lord together with the desire to conform myself, according to my poor, weak means, to the word of Christ, our Redeemer and Lord: “Whoever wishes to save their life will lose it; and whoever loses their life for my sake, will keep it”…  It is certainly easy to understand the words and general meaning of this saying of our Lord; however when one wants to put it into practice and make up one’s mind to lose one’s life for God so as to find it again in him, when one exposes oneself to dangers in which one pushes the probability of leaving one’s life among them…, then everything becomes so dark that these words, although so clear, become darkened too. In cases such as this, it seems to me, he alone will come to understand – however learned he may be – to whom God our Lord, in his infinite mercy, condescends to explain it in his particular circumstances. It is then one realizes the condition of our mortal flesh, namely how weak and feeble it is.

 

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02/17/17

During the last few Sundays at Mass, we have been reading from Matthew 5 where Jesus teaches us, His disciples, through the Beatitudes. I was reading Pope Benedict’s book, Jesus of Nazareth, and the pope’s discussion of the Beatitude, Blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God. Let me share with you some of the pope’s comments which remind us of our call to love, of our call to serve one another. That is the mind of Christ and the way that we will see God…. today and face-to-face one day in the future.

 

We will see God when we enter into the “mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:5). Purification of heart occurs as a consequence of following Christ, of becoming one with him. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). And at this point something new comes to light: The ascent to God occurs precisely in the descent of humble service, in the descent of love, for love is God’s essence, and is thus the power that truly purifies man and enables him to perceive God and to see him. In Jesus Christ, God has revealed himself in his descending way: “Though he was in the form of God,” he “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men…. He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him” (Philippians 2:6-9).

 

These words mark a decisive turning point in the history of mysticism. They indicate what is new in Christian mysticism, which comes from what is new in the Revelation of Jesus Christ. God descends, to the point of death on the Cross. And precisely by doing so, he reveals himself in his true divinity. We ascend to God by accompanying him on this descending path…. The pure heart is the loving heart that enters into communion of service and obedience with Jesus Christ. Loves is the fire that purifies and unifies intellect, will, and emotion, thereby making man one with himself, inasmuch as it makes him one in God’s eyes. Thus man is able to serve the uniting of those who are divided. This is how man enter God’s dwelling place and becomes ale to see him. And that is just what it means for him to be “blessed.”

 

 

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