There’s an ancient Jewish tradition which holds that March 25, the day on which the Catholic Church celebrates the moment when our Lord and Savior took on our human nature in the womb of the Virgin Mary, is also the day on which God began the original masterpiece of His Creation. Continue reading “The Annunciation: A Matter of Life and Death”
Given that the Church celebrated St. Faustina Kowalska’s feast day on Friday, this reflection from her diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, is as beautifully powerful as it is shocking, were it not for the words of our Lord: “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 will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25) …and when crucifixion is not a meaningless idea for our Lord or for those who follow Him:
These words from the beginning of St. Peter’s first letter (1:1-21) dovetail beautifully with the thoughts I shared yesterday, or rather, my thoughts are more clearly and concisely expressed by the Prince of the Apostles:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who live as strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia; to men chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, consecrated by the Spirit to a life of obedience to Jesus Christ and purification with his blood. Favor and peace be yours in abundance.
Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, he who in his great mercy gave us new birth; a birth unto hope which draws its life from the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; a birth to an imperishable inheritance, incapable of fading or defilement, which is kept in heaven for you who are guarded with God’s power through faith; a birth to a salvation which stands ready to be revealed in the last days.
There is cause for rejoicing here. You may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials; but this is so that your faith, which is more precious than the passing splendor of fire-tried gold, may by its genuineness lead to praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ appears. Although you have never seen him, you love him, and without seeing you now believe in him, and rejoice with inexpressible joy touched with glory because you are achieving faith’s goal, your salvation.
This is the salvation which the prophets carefully searched out and examined. They prophesied the divine favor that was destined to be yours. They investigated the times and the circumstances which the Spirit of Christ within them was pointing to, for he predicted the sufferings destined for Christ and the glories that would follow. They knew by revelation that they were providing, not for themselves but for you, what has now been proclaimed to you by those who preach the gospel to you, in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Into these matters angels long to search.
So gird the loins of your understanding; live soberly; set all your hope on the gift to be conferred on you when Jesus Christ appears. As obedient sons, do not yield to the desires that once shaped you in your ignorance. Rather, become holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, after the likeness of the holy One who called you; remember, Scripture says, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
In prayer you call upon a Father who judges each one justly on the basis of his actions. Since this is so, conduct yourselves reverently during your sojourn in a strange land. Realize that you were delivered from the futile way of life your fathers handed on to you, not by any diminishable sum of silver or gold, but by Christ’s blood beyond all price: the blood of a spotless, unblemished lamb chosen before the world’s foundation and revealed for your sake in these last days. It is through him that you are believers in God, the God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory. Your faith and hope, then, are centered in God.
“On this most holy days of days” as the hymn Ye Sons and Daughters states, our hearts should be full of joy. For Christians, Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection is the most important day of the whole year. It is the day when we recall the most important words ever spoken in the history of the world, from the first moment of time until last: He is risen. He is not here. Perhaps some, even among the Christian faithful, might find these words a little over-dramatized, yet I would beg to differ because, when we really consider this moment in context, words simply fail to capture this epic moment. Continue reading “The Most Holy Day of Days”
They went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. (John1:39) When I decided to enter the seminary and even many times as a priest, I have been asked why I would do such a thing with my life. While those who are confused are often non-Catholics or non-Christians, sometimes the question has come from Catholics. They’re baffled to find someone in their right mind freely choosing a life of celibacy, obedience, and simplicity. Beyond that, I now get questions about my current assignment of studying philosophy in Rome. If I don’t get questions about living in Rome or comments about how (unnecessarily) impressive it is that I’m studying philosophy, then I usually get questions about the usefulness of studying philosophy. Some of my brother priests, as only brothers can do, raze me about how great it must be to have a 5-year Roman vacation. In short, whether it’s my vocation to the priesthood or my training in philosophy, my life might seem pretty useless.
Continue reading “Being with Jesus – 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time”
In 1925, when Pope Pius XI instituted the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, it was, in part, to counter the onslaught of secularism … yes, it’s been coming for a long time! Religion was been forced out of the public square as an antiquated practice for those in ‘less educated periods’ of history. Yet, as Pius XI reminded the Church then, “When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony.” Thus, he felt the need to highlight this central belief of our Faith. Continue reading “Act of Consecration to Christ the King”
I’ve now been to the city of Venice – Italy, not Florida – at least three times; it shames me to admit that I have, to this point, failed to write much about such a captivating city, well…except for that one time! Having spent the weekend there serving as a chaplain for some American college students and having had one of the most enjoyable visits yet, it’s time to share this beautiful experience! During the course of the 48 hours we were “on the island”, I spent a combined total of about an hour just sitting in St. Mark’s Square. You might be thinking, “Isn’t there tons to do in Venice? Why just sit around?”
First, there’s the natural beauty…an island in the middle of the Mediterranean with miles and miles of beaches, both smooth and sandy and rough and rocky. Then there’s Mt. Etna, one of only a few active volcanoes in all of Europe, reaching nearly 11,000 feet above sea level … which, by the way, the sea is only a couple miles away, which makes the difference all the more drastic. Various eruptions of Etna through history have combined with the moderate climate to turn the island into an agriculturally-rich region. Likewise, being surrounded by the sea, Sicily can take advantage of the wealth of goodness found below the surface of the Mediterranean.
As I’m sure you’re abundantly aware, today is the Memorial of St. Gerald of Aurillac, who also happens to be my confirmation saint. Yes, the late-9th and early 10th-century nobleman who made a vow of celibacy and sought to rule his territory according to the principles of the Gospel (yes, the Gospel can actually help you be a good civil leader!). You can read his biography or just get the skinny on him.
Of course, in celebrating his memorial, I was “reduced” to using the 2nd reading in the Common of Holy Men for the Office of Readings…of course. (Don’t worry if half those words are meaningless; it’s not the real point)! Thanks be to God for such a providential direction, for it led me to a forgotten, but excellent exhortation by St. John Chrysostom, which I found to be beautiful, and so thought it worth sharing:
From a homily on the Acts of the Apostles by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop (Homilia 20, 4: PG 60, 162-164)
There is nothing colder than a Christian who does not seek to save others.
You cannot plead poverty here; the widow putting in her two small coins will be your accuser. Peter said, Silver and gold I have not. Paul was so poor that he was often hungry and went without necessary food.
You cannot plead humble birth, for they were humbly born, of humble stock. You cannot offer the excuse of lack of education, for they were uneducated. You cannot plead ill-health, for Timothy also had poor health, with frequent illnesses.
Each one can help his neighbor, if only he is willing to do what is in his power. Look at the trees that do not bear fruit: have you not noticed how strong and fine they are, upstanding, smooth, and tall? If we had a garden, we would much prefer trees with fruit—pomegranates and olives—to trees that are for pleasure, not for utility, and any utility these have is small. Continue reading “Spiritual Gut-Check”
This Sunday’s Gospel follows upon the miraculous feeding of the 5,000, a miracle to which the Apostles were eyewitnesses. Immediately after this, Jesus made them get into the boat…it’s not uncharitable; it’s Him making space for an opportunity of grace to help them grow in their relationship with Him. We know what’s about to happen, but they obviously have no idea. While they’re making the crossing, a storm comes up … not uncommon! Because they’re fishermen, they know there’s always a risk of storms on the Sea of Galilee. St. Matthew tells us that it was during the fourth watch of the night, which is basically the early hours of the morning, so it’s late into the night, and they’ve been fighting this for a long time. They’re probably sleep-deprived and physically exhausted from steering. Then, they see Jesus coming toward them. They think he’s a ghost; they’re afraid…I can’t blame them; I’d be afraid, too. Imagine seeing your best friend walking on water: “What the…who are you?” Continue reading “Don’t Waste Your Time; Get Out of the Boat – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time”