Friday, July 29, 2011

Quote of the Day

We are daily called by Christ to the service of love and the good fight against evil. It is a pity to think "Onward Christian Soldier Marching As to War" as the ideal Christ had in mind. The war we wage is not with material weapons and against visible enemies. It is all the same, real war. Count it defeat when you use angry words, ugly temper, anything violent in reference to your neighbor. You are losing the inner battle. Contempt for others, arrogance, fault-finding and judgment reveal the loser. Fr. Matthew Kelty, O.C.S.O

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, "Super-Nuncio" Sambi Dies at 73

Pietro Sambi (27 June 1938 – 27 July 2011) Italian Roman Catholic titular archbishop who served in the Vatican's Secretariat of State, titular archbishop of Bellicastrum and the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Saints of God, come to his aid
Hasten to meet him, angels of the Lord
Receive his soul, and present him to God the Most High....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dan Peek, Rest in Peace

I am so sorry to hear about the death of Dan Peek. I remember years ago, walking to my local record store, and buying the first America album - an awesome record that I still listen to today. And every time I hear "Ventura Highway" played on the radio, I recall the first time my friends and I drove from New Jersey to California in 1974. Dan Peek left the band in 1977, when the Lord called him to serve him in the Christian Music world. Here is one of my favorite America songs, "Lonely People." Beautiful Lyrics

This is for all the lonely people
Thinking that life has passed them by
Don't give up until you drink from the silver cup
And ride that highway in the sky

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Botafumeiro" flying high in Saint James' Cathedral

Our parish needs a new thurible. I will suggest to my pastor that we purchase one just like this!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Saint John Chrysostom, Homily

From a homily on the 2nd letter to the Corinthians by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop

Again Paul turns to speak of love, softening the harshness of his rebuke. For after convicting and reproaching them for not loving him as he had loved them, breaking away from his love and attaching themselves to troublemakers, he again takes the edge off the reproach by saying: Open your hearts to us, that is, love us. He asks for a favour which will be no burden to them but will be more profitable to the giver than to the receiver. And he did not use the word “love” but said, more appealingly: Open your hearts to us.
Who, he said, has cast us out of your minds, thrust us from your hearts? How is it that you feel constraint with us? For, since he has said earlier: You are restricted in your own affection, he now declares himself more openly and says: Open your heart to us, thus once more drawing them to him. For nothing so much wins love as the knowledge that one’s lover desires most of all to be himself loved.
For I said before, he tells them, that you are in our hearts to die together or live together. This is love at its height, that even though in disfavour, he wishes both to die and to live with them. For you are in our hearts, not just somehow or other, but in the way I have said. It is possible to love and yet to draw back when danger threatens; but my love is not like that.
I am filled with consolation. What consolation? That which comes from you because you, being changed for the better, have consoled me by what you have done. It is natural for a lover both to complain that he is not loved in return and to fear that he may cause distress by complaining too much. Therefore, he says: I am filled with consolation, I rejoice exceedingly.
It is as if he said, I was much grieved on your account, but you have made it up for me in full measure and given me comfort; for you have not only removed the cause for any grief but filled me with a richer joy.
Then he shows the greatness of that joy by saying not only I rejoice exceedingly but also the words which follow: in all my tribulations. So great, he says, was the delight that you gave me that it was not even dimmed by so much tribulation, but overcame by its strength and keenness all those sorrows which had invaded my heart, and took away from me all awareness of them.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Atlantis returning to Earth

I wanted to share this cool picture with you - the space shuttle Atlantis returning to Earth. The pic was taken by the crew on the International Space Station.

You can read more HERE.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

On Eucharistic Adoration

A good number of years ago, when I was a member of my parish pastoral council, a question came up about the possibility of Eucharistic Adoration - maybe a chapel could be built to support a 24 hour adoration, or at least a few times a month the church would be open to allow people in to adore Jesus in the monstrance. Our parish priest said that if people were not coming to Mass on Sundays, they would not come to Eucharistic Adoration. So - the idea slipped away. This reasoning is not correct. The more we adore Jesus in the Eucharist, the more we will conform our will to His will. Blessed Mother Teresa said "Spend as much time as possible in front of the Blessed Sacrament and He will fill you with His strength and His power. Tell Him, 'Come to our hearts Lord and stay with us'. Then you will become the instruments of His love, peace and joy."

Here is a good reflection on Eucharistic Adoration, from Archbishop Timothy Dolan's blog "The Gospel in the Digital Age."

“What makes this place tick?” I quizzed the exuberant pastor as he showed me around the parish, renowned for its high rate of Sunday Mass attendance; first-rate school; excellent religious education for kids, teenagers, young adults, and adults; remarkably effective stewardship; and successful initiatives of social justice, pro-life efforts, evangelization, and neighborhood presence.

I wanted the “recipe” so I could bottle it and send it around!

“Follow me, I’ll show you,” Father replied.

Through the school, filled with kids; on to the religious ed office, where catechists were planning the evening session; into the kitchen where people were cooking casseroles for the inner city soup kitchen; then to the senior citizen center where the lunch crowd was breaking-up; through the offices where volunteers were counting the Sunday collection . . . we didn’t stop . . . the pastor kept going . . . until we reached the chapel of the former convent, where, oh, perhaps six to eight people, of diverse ages, were in quiet adoration before Jesus, really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist, there in the monstrance on the altar.

“We’ve had perpetual Eucharistic adoration now for four years,” the pastor whispered. “We started slowly, about seven years ago, first with a day-a-week, then seven days, twelve-hour-a-day, until we had a well-oiled system in place. For the last four years, it’s been 24/7, with at least two people assigned every hour, all volunteers, and with many, many more during the waking hours. Our prayer hotline is legendary. I’m convinced this Eucharistic adoration is the key to the vitality, growth, and effectiveness of our parish.”

That recollection came to me as I read the story recently in a national newspaper of the “International House of Prayer’s 24 Hour Worship” in Kansas City. The article explained how a neighborhood had been revived, a congregation renewed, and lives changed by non-stop prayer sponsored by a small Christian evangelical church.

“Pray always!” the Good Book tells us, and Jesus exhorted us to make sure that our prayer was patient, persistent, and persevering.

Eucharistic adoration accomplishes this. It tells the world that “we can’t give what we don’t have,” and that, if we do not constantly turn to God in prayer for His grace and mercy, we’re finished. The best thing people of faith can do is pray . . . I can’t think of a better place to do that than before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

George Weigel recently wrote of “Miracles in Soho.” This dirty, crime-ridden, pagan, Sodom and Gamorrah-like west end of London now boasts a thriving parish, St. Patrick’s, a center of help, peace, outreach, welcome, service . . . and constant prayer before Jesus in the Eucharist. It’s a paradigm for the New Evangelization, George wrote after a recent visit, filled with young people excited about their faith, all centered around our Eucharistic Lord.

I am very grateful to the dozens and dozens of parishes throughout the archdiocese that encourage and offer Eucharistic adoration, some occasional, some on given days of the week, some perpetual. May the numbers increase!

The Church is renowned for all that we do — Catholic charities, health care, schools, youth work, love, service, and evangelization — and rightly so.

But what we do must flow from who we are — people of faith, prayer, adoration, our hearts on fire with our Lord, our best friend, the way, the truth, and the life.

If what we do does not spring from who we are, we are listless and ineffective.

When the first disciples asked Jesus about following Him, He did not say, “Come do a bunch of stuff with me.” Nope – He invited them to “Come, stay with me!” Eucharistic adoration is a great way to answer that invitation.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Archbishop Chaput coming to Philadelphia

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Archbishop Charles J.Chaput to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. I can only believe that this is very good news for the Church in Philly.

Here is the story out of CNA, written by Marianne Medlin;

Pope Benedict appointed Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver on July 19 to lead the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, who reached the age of retirement in April 2010, will serve as apostolic administrator until Archbishop Chaput's installation on Sept. 8. Cardinal Rigali has headed the Philadelphia archdiocese since 2003.

The Pope's appointment comes as the archdiocese struggles to deal effectively with clerical sex abuse allegations.

In March, Cardinal Rigali placed 21 priests on administrative leave following a grand jury report claiming to have credible accusations of misconduct against them. According to the report, some of the priests were still in active ministry at the time.

Since Archbishop Chaput's began leading the Denver archdiocese in 1997, it has launched numerous endeavors, such as the founding of the local St. John Vianney Seminary, which boasts one of the highest seminary enrollment rates in the country.

Archbishop Chaput has also been influential in the success of several Colorado-based organizations, including the nationwide missionary group Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), the international women's group Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women (ENDOW), and the Augustine Institute, a lay Catholic graduate school.

From 2003 to 2006, the archbishop served on the U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom.

He has also served on numerous U.S. bishops' committees involving marriage and family, pro-life activities, and migration.

Archbishop Chaput was born in 1944, in Concordia, Kansas. He attended school and seminary locally and later joined the St. Augustine Province of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin in 1965.

After studying at St. Fidelis College Seminary in Herman, Pennsylvania and later at the Catholic University in Washington, D.C., he was ordained to the priesthood in 1970.

In 1977, Archbishop Chaput became pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Thornton, Colorado, and vicar provincial for the Capuchin Province of Mid-America.

He was then ordained Bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota in 1988. In 1997, Pope John Paul II appointed him Archbishop of Denver.

As member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe, Archbishop Chaput is the second Native American to be ordained bishop in the United States, and the first Native American archbishop.

He will be installed on Sept. 8 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Weeds and the Wheat

The Weeds and the Wheat Matthew 13:24-30

I have met many interesting people working in Mother Teresa’s soup kitchen... They are from different parts of the world, all races, and all creeds. Some are good people; I would call them my friends. Some may be bad. But this is not for me to determine, as I am not to judge. Judging is God’s business.

All these people who come to eat have one thing in common. They are down on their luck. Many are caught in a cycle of poverty that is almost impossible to escape. Some problems are of their own making – for others, problems stem from family tragedies, psychological problems, and addictions. Some problems stem from a society that has lost its heart.

Soup kitchens were formed during the great depression of 1929, a period of devastating national poverty. One of the largest and busiest kitchens at that time was in Detroit, where Father Solanaus Casey and other Franciscan Friars served up to 2000 people in a single day. Today the poverty is not so much physical hunger but a spiritual hunger.

Blessed Teresa said “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”

Most soup kitchens have a similar setting – usually a long table with trays of food, with servers on one side – and the food line on the other side. Though it is not meant to be an “us and them” approach, this is certainly the feeling one gets. But Missionary of Charity volunteers know that they are on the serving side of the table, only by the grace of God – tomorrow all that can change; we may be on the other side, the food line. Life, in all its forms, is fragile. We do not know what the next day will bring.

The poor, those who are living on the streets, have many needs – as I said, physical and spiritual. Rarely do they come out and ask you for something directly. The question is more often hidden in the context of a story – about a lost job, a debilitating illness. This is how one find’s a way into a person's heart. Jesus did the same thing – being not only all God, but all Man, He knew that the story is the best way to reach the human heart – and even more, to open up one’s mind to the truth.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples using an “us and them” story. He says the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. After sowing the good seed during the day, an enemy comes at night and sows weeds. Now, the proper translation for this weed is “darnel.” It is a weed that, when growing, looks very much like wheat – it is difficult to tell them apart. Now you and me, when we notice weeds in our garden, we rush to pull them out, as they may are not only unsightly, but they also sap the nourishment from the good plants. Not the sower of this field - he dismisses the advice of his workers and decides to let the wheat and weeds grow together – it is safer for the crop. Weeds and wheat will be separated later at the harvest.

Jesus is using this story to reveal a TRUTH. That TRUTH is a gift for you and me. Who is this sower Jesus is speaking about? He is God - the good seeds? Those who follow the Lord, those who are “In Christ.” – and who are the weeds? Those who follow the evil one. What is this field? This is the world, God’s field. And the harvest? The Second coming of Christ – when the Lord will separate the wheat from the weeds, the good and the bad.

Jesus says this story is like the Kingdom of Heaven. When we think of the Kingdom of Heaven, we think of that place where Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, and where we all will reside enjoying eternal life. This is all true – for being in the Kingdom of Heaven is being in the presence of God. But Who is God? God is LOVE.

The Kingdom of Heaven is made manifest on Earth when we show concern for our neighbor in our actions. Mother Teresa calls this love of neighbor, “LOVE IN ACTION.” When we do acts of love, it is as though a window has opened up and the Kingdom of Heaven has rushed into our world. Mother Teresa said "Faith in action is love, and love in action is service. By transforming that faith into living acts of love, we put ourselves in contact with God Himself, with Jesus our Lord."

The sower is patient. We are to be patient with each other. The sower lets the wheat and weeds grow together. Does not the light of God shine on the good and the bad? We need time to change our hearts and minds – first to remove the weeds from our own lives. Then, after conforming our own will to Christ’s will, we can help our neighbor do the same. If we are tempted to judge others negatively, we should think of the love that God has for them – and maybe see the crucified Christ in them.
We should not let our negative opinions of others allow us to treat others badly – not to pull up the weeds before the harvest.

Allow God to be the judge, He is much more merciful and patient than we are. We need to love Christ in his Church. Pope Benedict says “Our Catholic culture is the kingdom of heaven on earth. It is the ‘civilization of life & love’, where the dignity of all men is recognized from womb to tomb.”

Whether we are working in soup kitchens, our work place, or at home with our families, we are to treat each other with the same respect that God has for each of us, the good and the bad.

Lord, teach us to be patient - with life, with people, and with ourselves. We sometimes try to hurry things along too much, and we push for answers before the time is right. Teach us to trust Your sense of timing rather than our own, and to surrender our will to Your greater and wiser plan. Help us let life unfold slowly, like the small rosebud whose petals unravel bit by bit, and remind us that in hurrying the bloom along, we destroy the bud and much of the beauty therein.

Instead, let us wait for all to unfold in its own time. Each moment and state of growth contains loveliness. Teach us to slow down enough to appreciate life and all it holds. Amen.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Falling in Love with God

While surfing the net for some homily inspiration, I came across this poem. It really spoke the truth to me - before I can do His good work, I must fall in love with Him.

Falling In Love With God

Nothing is more practical than finding God,
that is, than falling in love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.
It will decide what will get you
out of bed in the morning,
what you will do with your evenings,
how you will spend your weekends
what you read, who you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you
with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

Pedro Arrupe, SJ

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Last Flight

The space shuttle Atlantis is on its last flight. It is also the final space flight for the shuttle. God bless all the astronauts who served on the shuttles - especially those who gave their very lives for their country!

Read the story HERE

12 Catholic Words

I found this article in the National Catholic Register, written by Matthew Archbold. Do you know the meaning of these 12 words?

I was born a Catholic but that doesn’t mean I knew anything about the faith until I decided to investigate it for myself in college. In my research, I came across a number of things that weren’t true that I thought were, many things that were true that I hadn’t thought were true, and words that I misunderstood completely.

So to help others here’s a list of Catholic words that probably don’t mean what some may think they mean.

Acolytes - Sounds like something you drink to flush out your system. Hyper-Ade! Now with extra acolytes. In reality it’s one who assists in the celebration.

Aspergillum - Let’s be frank. It sounds like a fungus that wraps itself up in your intestine and makes you stay in the bathroom for three days. But it’s actually just a vessel or device used for sprinkling holy water during special blessings.

Beatification - is not a makeover. It’s actually for those who don’t need one.

Canon Law - Sounds like the title of a Steven Seagal movie. “Cannon Law -This Time It’s Personal.” But unfortunately, it’s not a thing that goes boom and knocks holes through the stomachs of henchmen. It’s the collection of laws (canons) governing administration of the Roman Catholic Church. Booooring!!!

Catechetics - It turns out that it’s not an dancercise regimen like Zumba like I thought. It’s from the Greek meaning “to sound forth,” and it is the procedure for teaching religion. You could imagine how embarrased I was showing up in my leopard print leotards and my Ricky Martin CD. (They’re pretty unforgiving. The leotards, not the catuchumens.)

Ciborium - Come on. That just sounds cool, like a race of Star Trek villains with giant heads and few morals. “The Ciborium have raised their shields, Captain. Fire!” But it’s actually a vessel used to hold the consecrated bread for the distribution of the Body of Christ during communion which is probably a lot more awesome than Star Trek villains.

Concupiscence -Actually that’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like.

Conference of Major Superiors of Men -How awesome does that sound? It’s like totally better than Fight Club. Charlie Sheen and I were ready to join, but it turns out it’s just an organization of major superiors representing communities of men religious in the United States. Charlie was ticked. Took a while to talk him down.

Dalmatic -Sounds like there should be spots on it but there’s not. At least not often. It’s the vestment the deacon wears over the alb on solemn occasions

Titular Sees - YOU GIGGLED!! You know you did. Seriously. Grow up. It’s just dioceses where the Church once flourished but which later died out. Bishops without a territorial or residential diocese of their own are given titular sees.

Ultreya - I’m not saying what it sounds like it could be, but I’m pretty sure that it is a sin to cut it, if you know what I mean. It’s actually Spanish word for “Keep on going!” or “Onward!” It is a weekly or monthly gathering of all Cursillo Group Reunions in an area to share prayers and songs and snacks. Ya know, kinda’ like kindergarten in Catholic school.

Zucchetto - I’ll take extra parmesan on my zuccheto please with some lean mutton on the side. It’s a small skullcap worn by clerics.

So I hope this clears things up for you and helps you avoid some embarrasing mistakes. And just so you know, I looked pretty darn awesome in the leotards but unfortunately all the pictures were destroyed in an accidental fire in my backyard.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Very Cool Video from St. Theresa's Catholic School

A short film made for St. Theresa's Catholic School in Sugarland, Texas. Very cool!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dust Storm in Phoenix

A massive dust storm engulfed the Phoenix area yesterday..There are so many forces we can not let us keep our hope in God who will always protect ways we can and can not understand...

God, our Father,
Eternal and Omnipotent,
Creator and Lord of the Universe,
you have set the earth on its foundation
and all elements of nature obey your command. You give food to all flesh,
cover the heavens with clouds,
and provide rain to the earth ─

We humbly beseech you
Lord, Most High,
to keep us safe from all dangers
and to calm all the storms of life that threaten us:
especially the attack of whirlwinds and tornadoes,
the calamity and destruction of hurricanes,
the din and damage of hail storms,
the striking of thunderbolts and lightning,
and the devastation of floods and tidal waves.

May we be secure in your loving protection,
seek your Will in all our experiences,
and serve you always with grateful hearts.
We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

On Relativism

"Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine", seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires.

"We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An "adult" faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth. We must develop this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith - only faith - that creates unity and is fulfilled in love."
- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger > Pope Benedict XVI

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cistercian Nun Sister Teresa - 84 years of Cloistered Life !

Sister Teresa, a Cloistered Nun in Spain, now holds the World Record for cloistered life, 84 Years! Sister entered the convent the day Pope Benedict XVI was born. You have to wonder how many lives have been changed by the prayers of this holy woman.

GUADALAJARA, Spain, - She entered the Cistercian Buenafuente del Sistal Convent the day that Joseph Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) was born, and today Sister Teresa is 103 years old and the world's record holder for having lived the longest as a cloistered nun.

After 84 years as a cloistered nun, Sister Teresa says that the greatest gift she has received has been prayer: "Without it, one cannot sustain oneself. I never cease repeating: 'Thank you, forgive. Thank you, forgive.'"

The nun is one of 10 cloistered nuns profiled in the Spanish-language book "¿Qué hace una chica como tú en un sitio como éste?" (What's a Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?). In the book, author Jesús Garcia brings to light the secluded world of cloistered nuns by getting to know what life is like behind the grail, and what inspired them to join.

Sister Teresa's story began as young girl living in Alava, Spain. She was known then as Valeria, and she was happy with her life on the family farm. "We were in the field from morning 'til night, working, but we were happy," she said.

The eldest of seven children, her father saw how hard Valeria and her younger sister worked and he wanted a different life for them. "Thinking nuns didn’t work, [my father] would say to my sister and me: 'Wouldn’t you like to be nuns?'" she recalls.

"I didn’t like nuns," she continued, "given how comfortable I was at home, [but] to please my father, [I] prayed to the patroness of Vitoria and asked her to give me a vocation. And did she give me one!"

You can read the rest of the story out of ZENIT HERE !

* above image: Cistercian Buenafuente del Sistal Convent