Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Face-Melting Quote of the Day

From St. Augustine of Hippo:

"The love of worldly possessions is a sort of bird line, which entangles the soul, and and prevents it flying to God."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Face-Melting Quote of the Day

From a sermon by St. Peter Chrysologus:

"When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery."

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Readings for March 27, Third Sunday of Lent:
Exodus 17:3-7
Psalm 95:1-2,6-9
Romans 5:1-2,5-8
John 4:5-42

This gospel passage is so rich with meaning that it could easily be the basis of an entire book. But since I'm not specializing in writing books here, this will be significantly shorter and much more narrowly focused. As I read this, especially in this season of Lent, the thing that sticks out to me is the process of conversion that the woman undergoes. To begin with she is shocked at the whole experience, given that this Jewish man is speaking to her, a Samaritan woman; this shouldn't be happening to begin with. It speaks a bit to the experience many have at first realizing that the Lord has reached out to them personally. Like Peter, who fell to his knees and exclaimed "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!", we too can be shocked that the Lord comes to us. But as yet she does not fully understand that Jesus is the Christ. Through their conversation they begin to go deeper and deeper. This models the way which we ought to be with the Lord in our own conversation of prayer with Him Who reaches out to us each day. And after much confusion on the woman's part because of the Lord's veiled speech, she finally comes to hear those blessed words that He is the Christ and it is then that she is able to be a true witness to the people of her town. Because of her witness the people of her town go to meet Jesus and their lives too are forever changed by the encounter.

During this season of Lent we are called to enter into the desert with the Lord and to be purified by His love through out fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. In having this encounter with Christ we are to be like the woman who has this intimate and powerful experience with the Lord which compels her to tell everyone about Him. May these remaining weeks of Lent see that experience taking place in our hearts compelling us to go out and proclaim His greatness as well.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Face-Melting Quote of the Day

From Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in Rosary Meditations from Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

"Loneliness is only Jesus calling us to a deeper union with Him."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Journey and The Model

The Crucifixion by El Greco
Readings for Wednesday, March 23/ St. Turibio of Mongrovejo:
Jeremiah 18:18-20
Psalm 31:5-6,14-16
Matthew 20:17-28

As we listen to the gospel passage today, we hear this third announcement from Christ of His passion, death, and resurrection. This time, as they are actually walking on the way up to Jerusalem, the Lord pulls the Twelve aside to tell them more explicitly than ever before all that would soon come to pass. But why? Why then? And why so explicit?

Some suggest that it is so that the Twelve would know what was coming and not be utterly blindsided when it happened. Others suggest that it is so that they might have faith despite the events. To these two thoughts St. John Chrysostom adds a third: Christ announced these things so that the Twelve would know that He had full knowledge of all that was to happen to Him – including all of the suffering – and yet He boldly went up anyway, doing so out of love. In this light we see that His announcement stands as a model that they – and we - are called to imitate, a model of suffering out of love.

Like James and John and their mother, we can sometimes lose sight of the necessity of suffering, though. Like them, we too can seek to attain the glories of the resurrection without enduring the sufferings of the passion and death on the cross. And just as James, John, and their mother approached the Lord and were reminded of the necessity of this suffering, we too are reminded through our prayer and sacrifices in this season of Lent that the only way to eternal life is through suffering and death, following that same model of love Jesus Himself set out for us.

It is an obvious fact, my brothers and sisters, that all us have our trials to endure. They may be little or great, spiritual, physical or emotional, but we all have them. And we also have the guarantee that more will come our way in the future. The challenge then is to know that those trials exist and will continue to come, and yet still follow after Christ who boldly went up to Jerusalem, each of us going to our own personal passion and death. The question that each of us must ask ourselves is this: are we ready? 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Face-Melting Quote of the Day

From Fr. Joseph Langford, MC in Mother Teresa: In the Shadow of Our Lady

"The more we discover the magnitude and abundance of God's gifts, the more we will find in ourselves what Mother Teresa experienced in Our Lady. We begin to expect good things from God. We expect him to bless us in a special way, today. We find ourselves looking forward to each day, like a child on Christmas Eve. What surprise love has the Father prepared for me today? What gifts has he prepared for my family?"

Monday, March 21, 2011

Face-Melting Quote of the Day

From St. Ephrem on the value of the crumbs of the Eucharist:

"That which I have now give you, says Jesus, do not consider bread, do not trample underfoot even the fragments. The smallest fragment of this Bread can sanctify millions of men and is enough to give life to all who eat It."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

On Fire

Readings for Sunday, March 20/ Second Sunday of Lent:
Genesis 12:1-4
Psalm 33:4-5,18-20,22
2 Timothy 1:8-10
Matthew 17:1-9

One of my favorite bands since I was a teenager has been Blindside, a Christian hardcore band from Sweden. If you understand the words they're screaming, you can actually find a beautiful and deep message. One such message from them is in the song 'King of the Closet,' whose chorus is "I'm a vampire. I'm afraid the light will set me on fire." On the surface it seems rather odd, and yet if we look into it and see it in it's context, we come to see that it is the singer's way of saying that he is not worthy to enter into the presence of the Lord - the light - and that the fire that will ensue will be the purging from his soul of all that is not of God, a purging that he still may not be entirely ready to endure. If we are honest with ourselves, I think most of us can relate because we all have our 'pet sins' that we cling to. In the story of the Transfiguration of the Lord, we are then called to into into the light and be set aflame. 

In the Old Testament we have the story of Moses ascending Mount Sinai where the Shekinah cloud descends upon him and he speaks face to face with God. When he comes down from the mountain his face - reflecting the light of the Lord - is so radiant that he has to cover it for the sake of the Israelites. He entered the light and was purified by that cleansing fire and stood before the people as a a genuine reflection of the Lord Himself. In our gospel passage today from Matthew, we see a similar story. But this time the Lord goes up on the Mountain and doesn't become radiant on account of anything outside Himself, rather the glory that is contained in Him is finally manifested to those three blessed Apostles. They have the gift of seeing the Lord in glory to strengthen their faith and to affirm the fact that He is divine - God from God, Light from Light. When they see this great mystery and hear the voice of the Father - they immediately fall prostrate on the ground. What struck me today is that when the Lord comes to them and says "Rise, do not be afraid," the gospel writer says simply "they saw no one else but Jesus alone."Sure, this is a way of saying that Moses and Elijah had disappeared, but it is also a way of say that they were wholly focused on Christ. In the presence of the Light, a portion of their impurity was burned away and they became more pure, more single-hearted, more focused on Christ. Pray that we too might have the strength to step out of our darkness into the Light, where we too will be cleansed and see no one else but Jesus alone. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Humble Joseph

About a year ago I decided to foster my devotion to Saint Joseph a bit more. I thought it fitting since he's the patron my home diocese, Baton Rouge, and the spouse of the Blessed Mother. So I went out and bought a book with reflections on his life taken from private revelations. One of the things that the author spoke about immediately was the humility of Joseph and the humble but vital role he played in our own story of salvation by caring for Mary during her pregnancy, providing for the infant Christ, and raising the Son of God as his own son. And with all of that he is mentioned only a few times in the whole of the scriptures. And yet it is rather fitting that he, like the Blessed Mother, would prefer to be in the background with the Lord in the spotlight. I began to pray with this aspect of the foster-father of Christ and went to leave the chapel when I looked up and noticed that statue of St. Joseph in the back our of chapel. It is a beautiful white marble (at least it looks like it) statue that is quietly tucked away a bit out of sight - you focus on the high altar, to the exclusion of the statues to the left and right as you enter. It struck me because for nearly three years I had been going in that chapel multiple times a day for Mass, community prayer and personal prayer and yet I had never really thought about his being there. And as I realized that he had been there the whole time though I was unaware, I realized that although I hadn't really had a great devotion to him he surely had been interceding for me - another foster-son whom he has been humbly guiding toward holiness and manhood. What a great example we have in him. 

O Humble Joseph, pray for us!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Face-Melting Quote of the Day

Today Mother Church honors St. Cyril of Jerusalem, known for this writing Catecheses. St. Cyril was one who knew the beauty of the Catholic faith and he sought to break it open that others might know and love it as well. This leads me to the quote of the day, this time from Archbishop Fulton Sheen, of happy memory:

"There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church, which is of course, quite a different thing."

So many people are against the Church and her teachings these days. If only they could open themselves to the truth, depth, and beauty that she contains, they would soon join her ranks! Let us pray that hardened hearts may be softened by the gentle dew of the Spirit.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Face-Melting Quote of the Day

From St. Jerome Emiliani:

"If then you remain constant in faith in the face of trial, the Lord will give you peace and rest for a time in this world, and forever in the next."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Face-Melting Quote of the Day

Today is the Memorial of St. John of God, a 16th century religious brother who devoted his life to caring for the sick and the poor. Here is a quote from one of his letters:

"I work here on borrowed money, a prisoner for the sake of Jesus Christ. And often my debts are so pressing that I dare not go out of the house for fear of being seized by my creditors. Whenever I see so many poor brothers and neighbors of mine suffering beyond their strength and overwhelmed with so many physical or mental ills which I cannot alleviate, then I become exceedingly sorrowful; but I trust in Christ, who knows my heart. And so I say: 'Woe to the man who trusts in men rather than in Christ.' Whether you like it or not, you will grow apart from men, but Christ is faithful and always with you, for Christ provides all things. Let us always give thanks to him. Amen."

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Do You Know God?

Readings for Sunday, March 6:
Deuteronomy 11:18,26-28,32
Psalm 31:2-4,17,25
Romans 3:21-25,28
Matthew 7:21-27

As we listen to the readings each week at Mass, it seems to me that there are basically two types of gospel readings. There are those passages that are very uplifting, such as the birth of Christ, the annunciation, the calling of the disciples, and other such stories. And then there are those stories that we read and go “ooh”; they sting a little and can make us a bit uneasy because the message is a real challenge. This latter type is what we have today. We hear the Lord tell His disciples that not all who call out ‘Lord, Lord’ will be saved and enter the kingdom of Heaven. This can be a bit upsetting to us, especially when we see the people the Lord is talking seem to be quite qualified. We hear the claims ourselves – they had prophesied in the name of the Lord, cast out demons and done mighty deeds, assumedly healing people and other such miracles – and yet they heard from the Lord “depart from me, you evildoers.” And it would seem that if they couldn’t get in with all of those qualifications, then what are my chances? What are our chances? When was the last time we did any of these great things? BUT – this doesn’t mean we are doomed. Actually, there is great reason to have hope and it comes in four small words from the Lord. Before he tells those disciples to depart from Him, He first says ‘I never knew you.” It’s about having a relationship with the Lord, not simply doing things. Certainly doing things to live out the Catholic faith is good and even necessary, but we must first be in that relationship.

In the Old Testament the phrase ‘to know’ was often used as a euphemism for the marital embrace of a man and woman because in that embrace there is an intimacy that is shared that one doesn’t share with any, even a best friend. And this is the spiritual intimacy that the Lord seeks to have with us – to show the great love He has for us and for each of us to receive that love and give that love in return. This is what those rejected disciples failed to do – they did the great deeds but failed to have that relationship that gives them worth. This is not something only they had to deal with though, but is actually something that we still must concern ourselves with today. We can all list the things we’ve done throughout our lives – the number of Masses we’ve been to, the many charitable works we’ve done, the rosaries we’ve prayed and on and on. But it is possible that we too might hear Him say to us ‘depart from me’ if we don’t have that personal, intimate relationship with the Lord.

And really, if you think about it, this relationship with the Lord is the heart of the Gospel. It is God the Father who loved us so much that He sent the Son among us to reveal Him to us, that we might come to know Him. And He loved us so much that He even permitted His Only Begotten Son to die for us to show that love in a tangible way. The Son loves us so much that He took on our own flesh and endured our same temptations and sufferings to be in union with us. And so great was His love for us that He suffered death on the Cross while we were yet in our sin. Furthermore, He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven so as to send the Holy Spirit upon us. The Spirit so greatly loves us that He dwells in our hearts and guides us toward our salvation, where we might be able to live forever in Heaven in that eternal embrace of love. That is the Gospel message and that message is simply that God loves us and wants us to return that gift of love in return.  

In just a few days Lent will be upon us as we celebrate Ash Wednesday and with that we enter into a season of great grace. The built in sources of grace that are fasting, abstinence, almsgiving, and prayer are certainly great ways to help build up that relationship with the Lord. And the Lord desires to work through those things to pour upon us many graces and blessings. So I hope and challenge all of you not to simply let this opportunity of grace pass by, but to really take advantage of this season in coming to know the Lord more deeply and coming to be known by Him as well.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Keep on praying!!

Just a reminder that the collection of prayers for the Holy Father is continuing for another two weeks over at Fr. Z's blog (WDTPRS) or link directly to it here. Remember that you can go back after 24 hours and click again to add additional prayers you've offered since the last post! 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Face-Melting Quote of the Day

"Without complexes of any kind, without fear of anyone or of anything, with every right - for the truth has a right to be taught - and with total freedom, for 'the word of God is not fettered' (2 Tim 2:9), the priest must make contact with all these people and teach them the doctrine of salvation. He has no right to remain silent. Woe to him if he does not preach the gospel!"

-Fr. Federico Suarez in About Being a Priest