Thursday, January 22, 2015

March for Life 2015

Only with prayer - prayer that storms the heavens for justice and mercy, prayer that cleanses our hearts and souls - will the culture of death that surrounds us today be replaced with a culture of life.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

2nd Sunday Ordinary Time 2015

The icon of the prophet Samuel 
from the collection of the Donetsk regional art museum

Samuel was lying in the sanctuary of the Lord, where the ark of God was, when the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’ Then he ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ Eli said, ‘I did not call. Go back and lie down.’ So he went and lay down. Once again the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ He replied, ‘I did not call you, my son; go back and lie down.’ Samuel had as yet no knowledge of the Lord and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. Once again the Lord called, the third time. He got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ Eli then understood that it was the Lord who was calling the boy, and he said to Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if someone calls say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
  The Lord then came and stood by, calling as he had done before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Samuel answered, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’
  Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him and let no word of his fall to the ground.
 1 Samuel 3:3-10,19

Friday, December 26, 2014

Saint Stephen

Saint Stephen 1476, Carlo Crivelli

This panel showing Saint Stephen is part of the large 'Demidoff Altarpiece' made for the high altar of San Domenico in Ascoli Piceno, east central Italy.

Saint Stephen was the first Christian martyr. He was a deacon (a lay assistant to the priest) of the first Christian community in 1st-century Palestine and was responsible for a daily distribution of food to the poor.

Accused of blasphemy against Moses and God, Stephen was brought to trial. Although not a priest, Stephen was well read in the Scriptures and argued against the religious council. As he spoke in defense of his belief in Christ as the Messiah, those watching him saw the face of an angel. Enraged, the council stopped the trial and took him out of the city where he was stoned to death.

In paintings he is shown in a deacon's robe and with the rocks used to stone him. His other identifying attributes are a palm (signifying martyrdom) and a book (a reminder of his learnedness).

O glorious saint, faithful imitator of Jesus Christ martyr in will and in reality, so full of charity, zeal, love, and purity, deign to intercede for us poor exiles; you who are so high in the favor of God, we do entreat you to procure for us a little spark of that divine love which animated your heart, that we too one day may have the happiness of seeing our God face to face.
Oh! obtain for us that virtue for which you were so eminent, and which in our holy vocation is particularly required–Charity. Amen.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christ is Born

A Christmas Card by Thomas Merton

When the white stars talk together like sisters
And when the winter hills
Raise their grand semblance in the freezing night,
Somewhere one window
Bleeds like the brown eye of an open force.

Hills, stars,
White stars that stand above the eastern stable.

Look down and offer Him.
The dim adoring light of your belief.
Whose small Heart bleeds with infinite fire.

Shall not this Child
(When we shall hear the bells of His amazing voice)
Conquer the winter of our hateful century?

And when His Lady Mother leans upon the crib,
Lo, with what rapiers
Those two loves fence and flame their brilliancy!

That will melt all our sufferings:
He is our Lamb, our holocaust!

And one by one the shepherds, with their snowy feet,
Stamp and shake out their hats upon the stable dirt,
And one by one kneel down to look upon their Life.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

2nd Sunday of Advent 2014

Advent is a time of waiting, of expectation, of silence.  Waiting for our Lord to be born. A pregnant woman is so happy, so content. She lives in such a garment of silence, and it is as though she were listening to hear the stir of life within her. One always hears the stirring compared to the rustling of a bird in the hand. But the intentness with which one awaits such stirring is like nothing so much as a blanket of silence.  Dorothy Day

Thanks to Beth of Louie Louie

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

“Advent: Hope or Delusion?” Thomas Merton


“Advent: Hope or Delusion?”

Thomas Merton

The certainty of Christian hope lies beyond passion and beyond knowledge. Therefore we must sometimes expect our hope to come in conflict with darkness, desperation and ignorance. Therefore, too, we must remember that Christian optimism is not a perpetual sense of euphoria, an indefectible comfort in whose presence neither anguish nor tragedy can possibly exist. We must not strive to maintain a climate of optimism by the mere suppression of tragic realities. Christian optimism lies in a hope of victory that transcends all tragedy: a victory in which we pass beyond tragedy to glory with Christ crucified and risen.

It is important to remember the deep, in some ways anguished seriousness of Advent, when the mendacious celebrations of our marketing culture so easily harmonize with our tendencey to regard Christmas, consciously or otherwise, as a return to our own innocence and our own infancy. Advent should remind us that the “King Who is to Come” is more than a charming infant smiling (or if you prefer a dolorous spirituality, weeping) in the straw. There is certainly nothing wrong with the traditional family jours of Christmas, nor need we be ashamed to find ourselves still able to anticipate them without too much ambivalence. After all, that in itself is no mean feat.

But the Church in preparing us for the birth of a “great prophet,” a Savior and a King of Peace, has more in mind than seasonal cheer. The advent mystery focuses the light of faith upon the very meaning of life, of history, of man, of the world and of our own being. In Advent we celebrate the coming and indeed the presence of Christ in our world. We witness to His presence even in the midst of all its inscrutable problems and tragedies. Our Advent faith is not an escape from the world to a misty realm of slogans and comforts which declare our problems to be unreal, our tragedies inexistent…

In our time, what is lacking is not so much the courage to ask this question as the courage to expect an answer…We may at times be able to show the world Christ in moments when all can clearly discern in history, some confirmation of the Christian message. But the fact remains that our task is to seek and find Christ in our world as it is, and not as it might be. The fact that the world is other than it might be does not alter the truth that Christ is present in it and that His plan has been neither frustrated nor changed: indeed, all will be done according to His will. Our Advent is a celebration of this hope.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Parable of the Talents

I enjoy reading “vocation” stories, especially stories of those who are called into the religious life. Sr. Brigid Ancilla Marie is a Sister of life, an order instituted by John Cardinal O’Connor of New York. She tells the story of her younger sister Rachel. When Sister Brigid was seven years old, Rachel was born. Rachel fulfilled the dream of every girl - to have a little sister to play with and love. But Rachel was different. She was born with a deletion in Chromosome 8, a genetic defect unique to her which is manifested through spina bifida, and a number of other small disorders.  Rachel was not expected to live one day, but today she is a happy eighteen years old.   Sr. Brigid’s dream was to become a medical doctor. After college, Sister applied to medical school - but was rejected. She decided to stay home, and become a full-time “home health aide” for her sister.  She would take care of Rachel from the time she got home from school - until she went to bed. She came to know her sister deeply, to learn to communicate with her in her silence - and to love her from the depths of her being, a participation in the pure, complete love of the Trinity. Through her caring of Rachel, Sr. Brigid’s life was marked by God, revealing the mystery of who He is, thereby revealing to Sr. Brigid her own identity, and her own personal vocation, her GIFT of sharing - and love for others. The Lord spoke to her heart – she let go of her dream of being a medical doctor, and pursued a vocation to be a religious, a Sister of Life, vowing protection and enhancement of the sacredness of every human life. All is grace, all is gift. Our parable today is all about “gifts.” The gifts God gives us – and what we are to do with them.

Jesus tells us the story of a man who is going on a long journey. He trusts his servants to care for his possessions. The scripture calls these possessions “talents.” Talents were a form of money, weighty money, like an ingot or brick of silver or gold. Each “talent” would be invaluable. So, he leaves these “talents” with his servants “the amount according to each of their abilities. To one servant he gives five, this is great wealth. To one he gives two, to another – one. The first two servants take a risk; they invest the talents, double the money, and make a rich return.  The servant with one, out of fear, buries the “talent”, no risk, no return. When the master arrives, he is full of joy - seeing what the first two servants had done. He promotes them, giving them more responsibilities. But when he sees that the servant with one talent had done nothing with it, he erupts in anger, sending the servant into the darkness.

 What is Jesus teaching us here – the “man or master” represents Christ - the servants are the disciples, you and me. The “talents” are the gifts given to us by God. God, as Trinity, is GIFT in his very being – the love the Father has for the Son, the love the son has for the Father, the relationship being the Holy Spirit. We are made in God’s image, we too are GIFT.

Whatever God gives us, is meant to become a “gift.” God has bestowed on us innumerable gifts - life, breath, being, intellect, our will, and our emotions.  These gifts are manifested in many different ways, gifts of teaching, healing, nurturing, forgiveness, mercy, loving others as Christ loves us, and of course, FAITH. These gifts we do not own; we are called to be good stewards, to use them for the “greater Glory of God.” 

We may say, what is MY gift? What is MY personal vocation? We recognize our gifts in the same way as Sister Brigid did, by our life experience, prayer, spiritual direction, discernment. 

St. John Paul II said "God - with his call - reaches the heart of each individual, and the Spirit, who abides deep within each disciple, gives himself to each Christian with different charisms and special signs. Each one, therefore, must be helped to embrace the gift - entrusted to him - as a completely unique person, and to hear the words which the Spirit of God personally address to him" (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 1992).

The first two servants in the parable were willing to risk, investing the talents, giving them away, hence doubling the wealth. If we desire Gods life, his grace in us, we must be conformed to HIS way of being.  Gifts, which come from God, are meant to be given, if not, they will wither away. 

Jesus says “To everyone who has, more will be given, and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Now I would think that most of us here in this Church are baptized Christians. Do we realize how blessed we are - for at our baptism, we received the greatest gift of all – the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The seed of faith was planted. Now that our faith has matured, what are we to do with it? Do we keep it inside? Are we like the servant with one talent who was afraid to risk, to give? That servant lost everything. 

Faith increases in the measure that we share it. It’s not easy for us today to share our faith as it is always under attack. Life attacks our faith, the loss of a loved one, unemployment, sickness. Many times we are tempted to think that there is no God at all. That’s ok, take a risk. Put your faith out there, open it up to ridicule. 

The Lord is watching us – St. Paul says “the day of the Lord will come like a thief.” “Stay alert and sober”.

Hear the words of the Psalmist today “Blessed are you who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways.”