CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 31, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 4:35-41

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples: “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus

was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

Reflection on the gospel: Over and over in the gospel, as in today’s reading, Jesus tells us not to fear and asks us to trust. As the hymn from John Michael Talbot suggests, our vocations as disciples of Jesus, women and men who follow his path, call on us to give our concerns and troubles to the Lord. We may be buffeted by the strong winds that blow through our lives, and we may fear we will perish because of them, but our faith instructs us to live in the peaceful certainty that the God who cares for us today also will care for us tomorrow. God is faithful, so let us be, too: peace be to you; be not afraid.

Saint of the day: Today’s example of faithful trust in God’s care, John Bosco, was born in 1815 in Piedmont, Italy. His father died when the boy was 2 years old, and as soon as he was old enough to do odd jobs, he did so for extra money for his family. Bosco would go to circuses, fairs and carnivals, practice the tricks he saw magicians perform, and then present one-boy shows. After his performance, while he still had an audience of boys, he would repeat the homily he had heard earlier in church. He worked as a tailor, baker, shoemaker, and carpenter while attending college and the seminary. Ordained in 1841, he became a teacher and worked with youth, finding places where they could meet, play, and pray. He would teach catechism to orphans and apprentices. A chaplain in a

hospice for girls, he wrote short treatises aimed at explaining the faith to children and then taught children how to print them. He founded the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) in 1859, priests who work with and educate boys, under the protection of Our Lady, Help of Chistians, and Saint Francis de Sales. He founded the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians in 1872, and the Union of Cooperator Salesians in 1875. He died in 1888 at Turin, Italy. Thousands attended his funeral.

Spiritual reading of the day: I must and ought to grant that everything that is done is well done, because our Lord God does it all. (Revelations of Divine Love by Dame Juliana of Norwich)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 30, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 4:26-34

Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the Kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”

He said, “To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like

a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

Reflection on the gospel reading: Scripture scholars agree that the core of Jesus’ teaching was the proclamation of the kingdom of God. Here we have two parables that suggest to us how Jesus understood God’s kingdom arises among us. The first of the two parables talks about the growth of wheat stalks: we may not know how the process occurs, but we believe and behave like it will occur, and it does in fact occur just the way we expected. The second of the two parables describes how the arrival of the kingdom of God starts very small only subsequently to loom as very great. What shall we take away from these two parables? First, God is faithful, and God will act. We may not know how, but we can believe and behave like God will lead us, and God will not disappoint us. Second of all, we can trust that small things will lead to great things (not unlike Jesus’ own ministry to tiny backwater towns in a backwater region of the Roman Empire that has spread to the four corners of the earth.) The coming of the Kingdom of God in our lives, then, is mysterious, reliable to the point of predictability, and immensely productive. You can count on it.

Saint of the day: Mutien Marie Wiaux was born in Belgium in 1841 as Louis Wiaux. He was one of six children of a blacksmith whose family was noted for piety. He attended a small country school and helped in his father’s shop. He joined the Brothers of Christian Schools in April 1852 at age 11, taking the name Mutien Marie. He taught at several elementary schools near Brussels; he was so easy on his

students that his classes were known for getting out of hand. He was reassigned to music and art classes so he could work with small classes, and work individually with students. He soon became an excellent fine arts teacher, and the one-to-one work led many young people to see and follow his excellent example of a holy life devoted to prayer. He died January 30, 1917 of natural causes.

Spiritual reading: The effect of true love is the reciprocal communication of all good things between

the persons who love each other; whence it follows that charity cannot exist without sacrifice (Spiritual Exercises by Ignatius of Loyola)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 29, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 4:21-25

Jesus said to his disciples, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light. Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.” He also told them, “Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

Reflection on the gospel: Jesus invites us to let the light of our lives illuminate the world we inhabit. As the song from “Godspell” suggests, we can accomplish this through our relationship with the Lord that liberates us from all the things that imprison us.

Saint of the day: Gildas the Wise was born around 500 and died about. 570, although some scholars believe he may have died as early as 554. Gildas may have been born in the lower valley of Clydeside in Scotland. He is often called “Badonicus” because he was born in the year the Britons defeated the Saxons at Bath. He may have married and been widowed, but he eventually became a monk at Llanilltud in southern Wales, where he was trained by Saint Illtyd together with Saint Samson and Saint Paul Aurelian, though he was much younger. Well-known Irish monks, including Saint Finnian, became his disciples. He made a pilgrimage to Ireland to consult with his contemporary saints of that land and wrote letters to far-off monasteries. He seems to have had considerable influence on the development of the Irish church.

Around 540 he wrote the famous work De excidio et conquestu Britanniae with the purpose of making known “the miseries, the errors, and the ruin of Britain.” The work laid bare and severely criticized the lives of Britain’s rulers and clerics, blaming their moral laxity for the triumph of the Anglo-Saxon invaders. Although the fierceness of its rhetorical invectives has been criticized the wide scriptural scholarship that it reveals is uncontested. It also shows that he was knowledgeable about Virgil and Ignatius. This work was cited by Saint Bede.

He is considered to be the first English historian. He lived as a hermit for some time on Flatholm Island in the Bristol Channel, where he copied a missal for Saint Cadoc and may have written De excidio. Gildas made a pilgrimage to Rome and on his return founded a monastery on an island near Rhuys (Rhuis or Morbihan) in Brittany, which became the center of his cult. Though he lived for a time on a tiny island in Morbihan Bay, he gathered disciples around him and does not seem to have cut himself off entirely from the world; he did travel to other places in Brittany. He is said to have died on the isle of Houat, though this is uncertain.

The De excidio, which very influential in the early Middle Ages, may not have been written entirely by Gildas. Some of it may have been a forgery shortly after his time. The work serves as an example of the classical and early Christian literature that was then available in England. Gilda’s writings were used by Wulfstan, archbishop of York, in the 11th century in his Sermon of the Wolf to the English people during the disordered reign of Ethelred the Unready.

The chronology of Gildas’s life has been disputed. Some say that the lives of two men of the same name have been confused. Some early Irish martyrologies commemorate his feast as does the Leofric Missal (c. 1050) and Anglo-Saxon calendars of the 9th through 11th centuries (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Gill, Farmer, Walsh, White).

He is portrayed in art with a bell near him (White).

Spiritual reading: Make sure you practice this very interesting mortification: that of not making your conversation revolve around yourself. (The Forge by Josemaria Escriva)

What do you believe?

Posted in Uncategorized by fatherjimb on January 28, 2009

I’d like to share a few thoughts on the meaning behind the Creed we say each Sunday. Too often we rattle through it without much prayerfulless. The creed has a history behind it and is also a statement of who we are as Christians. Perhaps this will give you food for thought, and so we begin:

We believe in one God.

One God? There was a recent newspaper article that talked about a group of women who worked together on a project, some were Christian and others were Moslems. The writer of the article stated that these individuals were able to work as one even though they worshiped different Gods. Of course there was a retraction of this statement since God, by whatever name we give, is still God, the one and only. In our new multicultural society the monotheistic presumption of our youth has been turned on its head by believers in multiple gods that are strange to Western ears. Despite this, there is still only one God by whatever name or names we call God.

Even in the early church the concept of one God caused problems. If there is only one God how can Jesus be God or the Holy Spirit be God? Councils were called. The very existence of the entire Roman Empire was at stake since religion and the state were so closely linked. It was in Nicea that a statement of beliefs we recite each Sunday was created.

Who is God?

Human definitions of God vary. I suppose you would get a different answer based on each person’s perception of who and what a God is if we believe in God’s existence at all. In a sense, God is created in our own image since we have no words to describe an existence. When Moses asked God by what name the people of Israel should call their God, God simply answer “Tell them I am who I am.”

What is it you believe about God?

Georgetown university decided to open a campus in the gulf nation of Qatar. They determined that their class offerings would be the same as those in their DC campus and sent Jesuit Fr Ryan Maher, SJ to teach his Comparative Religions course. “Do you think you will be going to hell, Father?” There was a pause after which the other student said “Yes.” And then “Sorry Father.” It was then that Fr Maher began to reflect on what he was teaching. In the US his The Problem of God class was just another academic subject. He expected his students to study, debate and regurgitate the correct answers to the exams questions. Here, however, he was faced with an entirely new variable, students whose belief systems were not an academic exercise but part of who they are. “It’s not that we don’t know bout religion, it’s that we don’t understand faith and its life shaping power, ” noted Fr Maher in discussing his two year experience. How many of us can say that about our faith?

Its all about the Iced Tea.

Henry from a small town in Mississippi was the parish maintenance man. Being a true southerner from a rural area he was not as sophisticated as we might expect. Henry drank his milk right from the carton and left a spit of iced tea in the pitcher even though he knew there wasn’t enough for his wife. His wife of three years was slowly working to change Henry to get him to think about his actions.

One day Henry was leaving for work and decided that a nice glass of iced tea would be just the thing he needed to jump start his day. Like usual Henry poured himself a glass and placed the nearly empty pitcher bag in the refrigerator. He headed out the door, started his pickup and was about to put it into gear when he had an epiphany. He realized that not only was leaving a nearly empty pitcher going to rive his wife crazy he realized he really loved her. So, he turned off the car, went inside, washed out the pitcher and brewed a new pot of tea and even sliced up some lemons. Henry knew that if he truly loved his wife he needed to demonstrate it by his actions.

When we say we believe in God that belief should not just be an academic pursuit but one which permeates our thoughts and actions. When I am at work, do I act in a loving and caring manner? Do I treat my neighbors with respect even when I disagree with them? Can the poor and those in need count on me to place their needs before my desires? Does my desire for more money, a better position, a bigger house and more personal recognition become the rule of my life? Are my spouse,children and parents first in my life or does work or hobbies crowd them out?

Belief in God is an action statement not just a declarative one. Will I fail in my belief? Yes, the Apostle Thomas didn’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Perhaps our prayer should be like the father of the child possessed who sought Jesus’ help: “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

(to be continued)

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Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, ethics, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 28, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 4:1-20

On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them, “Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.” Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no roots; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

Reflection on the gospel: Several years ago, I wrote some rhythmic prose about the parable in today gospel. For what it’s worth, I thought I would share it with you:

In a field under azure skies beneath the great orb of the sun walks a sower. Light glistens in the air as it cascades down from the vault of heaven onto the field like the fall of waters into the great chasm of time. The sower walks, and as he walks, he swings his arm in a count of one, two: left, right; to, fro; here, there. As the seed drops to the ground, a soft lullaby resonates from the earth and mixes in the air with the smell of the seed and the soil. At the last as at the first, all of it fuses into one, and all love presses into the oneness of his being. The sower offers life to the field as he sows the seed to bring forth a harvest from the barrenness. The work of the field, the seed, the soil, the air, the light, the sound, and the smell, is the life of the sower. The sower’s life is love for the field, and love is the work of the field.

Saint of the day: Thomas Aquinas was born in about.1225 at Aquino, Italy. The son of the Count of Aquino, he came into the world at the family castle in Lombardy near Naples. Educated by Benedictine monks at Monte Cassino and at the University of Naples, he secretly joined the mendicant Dominican friars in 1244. His noble family kidnaped and imprisoned him for a year to keep him out of sight while they tried to “de-program” him, but he rejoined his order in 1245.

He studied in Paris from 1245 until 1248 under Saint Albert the Great, then accompanied Albertus to Cologne. Ordained in 1250, he returned to Paris to teach. He taught theology at University of Paris. He wrote defenses of the mendicant orders, commentaries on Aristotle and Lombard’s Sentences, and some bible-related works, usually by dictating to secretaries. He won his doctorate and taught in several Italian cities. Recalled by king and university to Paris in 1269, then returned to Naples in 1272 where he was appointed regent of studies while working on the Summa Theologica.

On December 6, 1273 he experienced a divine revelation which so enraptured him that he abandoned the Summa, saying that it and his other writing were so much straw in the wind compared to the reality of the divine glory. He died of natural causes four months later on March 7, 1274 while en route to the Council of Lyons; he was overweight and his health was broken by overwork.

His works have been seminal to the thinking of the Church ever since. They systematized her great thoughts and teaching, and combined Greek wisdom and scholarship methods with the truth of Christianity.

Spiritual reading: No one born passes this life without pain, bodily or mental. (Dialogue by Catherine of Siena)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 27, 2009

Gospel reading the day:

Mark 3:31-35

The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house. Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Reflection on the gospel: This passage from the gospel sometimes causes confusion when people read it. Jesus isn’t rejecting his family in this passage. We see over and over again throughout the gospels that Jesus uses the circumstances around him as teachable moments for his listeners. He always looks beyond the basic facts of situation, such as the physical arrival of his family, to make a deeper point that reflects the central truth of his mission. Here it is that all of us who strive to understand and do God’s will are the family of Jesus in a way that Jesus teaches is more basic to human existence than even the bonds among natural family members.

Saint of the day: Born in 1474 in Italy, Angela Merici was a Franciscan tertiary at age 15. She received a vision telling her she would inspire devout women in their vocation. In Crete, during a pilgrimage to Holy Land, she was struck blind. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on

going on, visiting the shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way home, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost. In 1535, she gathered a group of girl students and began what would become the Institute of Saint Ursula (the Ursuline Sisters), founded to teach children, beginning with religion and later expanding into secular topics; her first schools were in Desenazno and Brescia. She died in Brescia, Italy in 1540.

Spiritual reading: We always have need of God, therefore we must always pray. The more we pray,

the more we please him and the more we obtain. (Retreat Notes by Saint Claude de la Colombiere)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 26, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 3:22-30

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house. Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Reflection on the gospel: In today’s gospel, the scribes from Jerusalem, Jesus’ most determined opponents, accuse Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan. In fact, a grammatical form in the text suggests it was an ongoing line of attack. Jesus, showing himself to be a master rhetorician, argues persuasively that the scribes’ proposition is absurd on its face: if Satan’s house is divided against itself, Satan’s reign is at an end. Jesus goes on to charge the scribes with obstinacy in the face of so much evidence his ministry comes from God and warns them that resistance to such clear evidence represents an ultimate insult against God. So it is in our lives that we must attend to the myriad ways the Lord presents himself to us and resist temptations to put ourselves in opposition to the miracles of God’s action in our lives.

Saint of the day: Timothy (d. 97?): What we know from the New Testament of Timothy’s life makes it sound like that of a modern harried pastor. He had the honor of being a fellow apostle with Paul, both sharing the privilege of preaching the gospel and suffering for it.

Timothy had a Greek father and a Jewish mother named Eunice. Being the product of a “mixed” marriage, he was considered illegitimate by the Jews. It was his grandmother, Lois, who first became Christian. Timothy was a convert of Paul around the year 47 and later joined him in his apostolic work. He was with Paul at the founding of the Church in Corinth. During the 15 years he worked with Paul, he became one of his most faithful and trusted friends. He was sent on difficult missions by Paul—often in the face of great disturbance in local Churches which Paul had founded.

Timothy was with Paul in Rome during the latter’s house arrest. At some period Timothy himself was in prison (Hebrews 13:23). Paul installed him as his representative at the Church of Ephesus.

Timothy was comparatively young for the work he was doing. (“Let no one have contempt for your youth,” Paul writes in 1 Timothy 4:12a.) Several references seem to indicate that he was timid. And one of Paul’s most frequently quoted lines was addressed to him: “Stop drinking only water, but have a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (1 Timothy 5:23).

Titus (d. 94?): Titus has the distinction of being a close friend and disciple of Paul as well as a fellow missionary. He was Greek, apparently from Antioch. Even though Titus was a Gentile, Paul would not let him be forced to undergo circumcision at Jerusalem. Titus is seen as a peacemaker, administrator, great friend. Paul’s second letter to Corinth affords an insight into the depth of his friendship with Titus, and the great fellowship they had in preaching the gospel: “When I went to Troas…I had no relief in my spirit because I did not find my brother Titus. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia…. For even when we came into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted in every way—external conflicts, internal fears. But God, who encourages the downcast, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus…” (2 Corinthians 2:12a, 13; 7:5-6).

When Paul was having trouble with the community at Corinth, Titus was the bearer of Paul’s severe letter and was successful in smoothing things out. Paul writes he was strengthened not only by the arrival of Titus but also “by the encouragement with which he was encouraged in regard to you, as he told us of your yearning, your lament, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more…. And his heart goes out to you all the more, as he remembers the obedience of all of you, when you received him with fear and trembling” (2 Corinthians 7:7a, 15).

The Letter to Titus addresses him as the administrator of the Christian community on the island of Crete, charged with organizing it, correcting abuses and appointing ministers of the gospel.

Spiritual reading: You, eternal Trinity, are a deep sea: The more I enter you, the more I discover, and the more I discover, the more I seek you. You are insatiable, you in whose depth the soul is sated yet remains always hungry for you, thirsty for you, eternal Trinity, longing to see you with the light in your light. (Catherine of Siena)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 25, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 1:14-20

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.

Reflection on the gospel reading: In the gospel of the third Sunday in Ordinary Time, the passage at Mark 1:14-20, Jesus calls James and John to come follow him, so they might become, “fishers of men.” From various passages in the gospels, it is clear that Jesus sees his call to follow him as far more important than the ordinary obligations of survival and even the natural affections within families.

The case of the call of James and John is quite to the point. James and John were fishermen who apparently worked in the family trade along with their father Zebedee and his hired men. The ownership of a boat and the employment of men suggest the family business had enjoyed some measure of success, but since the family still worked, their futures apparently were not secure. The gospel records that James and John, upon hearing Jesus’ call, simply walked away from their father, the family business, the boat, and the hired men. To follow Jesus, they abandoned the ordinary obligations of survival and turned their back on the natural affections that tied them to their father.

Elsewhere, when Mark describes the call and provides the names of the 12 apostles, we are told that James and John are the sons of thunder. One well can imagine that Zebedee’s reaction at the departure of his sons from the family business was explosive. Fathers often do not react well when their sons leave their chores to pursue activities they associate with leisure. Jesus in other gospel passages reflects that he has come as a sign of contradiction: “Do you imagine that I have come to bring peace?” No, he tells us but rather a sword that divides mother against daughter and father against son. Our Lord perhaps had in mind a reminiscence of Zebedee’s fiery reaction to his sons’ sudden departures from the family’s trade.

There is a lesson in all of this for us. How are we to understand the purpose of our lives? How are we to cooperate with the adventure? It is in reflection upon the events that fill our lives and the patterns that develop across the years. Jesus clearly came to understand his mission through the events that took place in his life. Jesus recognizes that he stirs opposition and even division in families, but he tells us that his mission is more important than the tensions he creates.

Dorothy Sayers, the Anglican author and humanist who died in 1957, once wrote,

I believe it to be a great mistake to present Christianity as something charming and popular with no offense in it . . . We cannot blink at the fact that gentle Jesus meek and mild was so stiff in his opinions and so inflammatory in his language that he was thrown out of church, stoned, hunted from place to place, and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and a public danger. Whatever his peace was, it was not the peace of an amiable indifference.

Let us never be afraid to stir controversy on behalf of the vision we believe God has given us. The call that each of us received in baptism to become “fishers of men” is not for the feint of heart.

Spiritual reading of the day: I do not now fear God, but I love him, for love casts fear out of doors. (Saying of Abbot Anthony)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 24, 2009

Gospel of the day:

Mark 3:20-21

Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Reflection on the gospel: All of us want to be understood. Most particularly, we want to be understood by the members of our families. But sometimes the work that we do is so important that it is worthwhile to risk not being understood. Pursuing our vision of God’s will for our lives strikes me as something important enough that we can risk not being understood. It strikes me that it is important enough to risk being considered mad. Jesus was willing to take that risk, and he suffered his family’s sense he had lost his mind, but he never gave up on what he sensed the Father called him to do.

Saint of the day: Born in Savoy in 1567 to a well-placed family, Francis de Sales’s parents intended that he become a lawyer, enter politics, and carry on the family line and power. He studied at La Roche, Annecy, and Clermont College in Paris. He pursued legal studies at the University of Padua and became a Doctor of Law. He returned home and found a position as Senate advocate.

It was at this point that he received a message telling him to “leave all and follow me.” He took this as a call to the priesthood, a move his family fiercely opposed. However, he pursued a devoted prayer life, and his gentle ways won over the family.

Francis became a priest and assumed the position of Provost of the diocese of Geneva, Switzerland, a stronghold of Calvinists. A preacher, writer, and spiritual director in the district of Chablais, his simple, clear explanations of Catholic doctrine, and his gentle way with everyone, brought many back to Catholicism.

He became the Bishop of Geneva at age 35. He traveled and evangelized throughout the Duchy of Savoy, working with children whenever he could. He was friend of Saint Vincent de Paul. He turned down a wealthy French bishopric and helped to found the Order of the Visitation with Saint Jeanne de Chantal. He was a prolific correspondent and has been named a Doctor of the Church. He died on December 28, 1622 at Lyons and is buried at Annecy.

Spiritual reading: So I entered the place where I usually prayed and mindful of the words of the holy man I began to say, “Holy God”. At once I was so greatly moved to tears and loving desire for God that I would be unable to describe in words the joy and the delight I then felt. I fell prostrate on the ground, and at once I saw, and behold, a great light was immaterially shining on me and seized hold of my whole mind and soul, so that I was struck with amazement at the unexpected marvel and I was, as it were, in ecstasy. Moreover I forgot the place where I stood, who I was, and where and

could only cry out, ‘Lord, have mercy,’ so that when I came to myself I discovered I was reciting this. But who it was that was speaking, and who moved my tongue, I do not know – only God knows. (Catechetical Discourse by St. Symeon the New Theologian)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 23, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 3:13-19

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: He appointed the Twelve: Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named

Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Reflection on the gospel: Jesus’ appointment of 12 apostles suggests his conscious awareness of the ties between his ministry and the history of his people. At the time of the the Assyrian invasion of the northern Kingdom of Israel in the eighth century, 10 of the 12 tribes were scattered and lost, and the history of God’s chosen people was disrupted. The proclamation of the Kingdom of God, the central message of Jesus’ ministry, suggested to the Lord the need to symbolically reestablish the 12 tribes of Israel. The naming of the 12, therefore, partly testifies to the continuity of God’s action within the lives of his chosen ones. Through our baptism, God has chosen us. We can trust that just as Jesus’ ministry continued and fulfilled the history of Israel, God will continue to remain present in our lives. The same God who cares for us today will care for us tomorrow, so no matter what troubles

lie before us, we can be confident that God either will render them harmless or give us the strength to sustain the trials God sends.

Saint of the day: Nikolaus Gross was born on September 30, 1898 in Germany. A miner, he became the father of seven. A member of the Christian miners’ labor union at age 19, he became its secretary at 22. A member of the Zentrum Christian Party at age 20, he worked at age 22 on the West German Workers’ Newspaper, the newspaper of the Catholic Workers’ Movement and became its director at age 24.

A nonviolent opponent of Nazism from its beginnings, Nickolaus worked with distinguished Catholic intellectuals who opposed the regime. From Cologne, he exposed the lies and harmful effects of Nazi propaganda, and he worked for the revolt of consciences against Hitler. Declared an enemy of the state, his newspaper was shut down in 1938, but at great risk, he continued to publish an underground edition.

He tried to organize resistance among Catholic workers in preparation for the assassination attempt on July 20, 1944. Though neither he nor the members of his group were implicated in the assassination attempt, Nikolaus was arrested on August 12, 1944 for treason, and sentenced to death by a People’s Court on January 15, 1945. A martyr, he was executed January 23, 1945 at the Berlin-Plotzensee prison. His body was cremated and the ashes scattered.

Spiritual reading: I was falling in a well, and the further that I fell, the more I realized that the well

had no bottom, and the deeper into the well I went, the greater did God seem to me, and as I fell, I desired nothing but to fall forever into the never-ending depths of this well.

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 22, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 3:7-12

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea. Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him. And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” He warned them sternly not to make him known.

Reflection on the gospel: The gospels over and over again suggest the profound impression that Jesus left on the people who were around him. People so desperately wanted to be near him and even to touch him that Jesus had to take precautions for his physical safety lest the crowds were to “crush him.” We live in the presence of the risen Lord, and the more we permit ourselves to be conscious of his presence, the greater our need to be with him will become. Let us strive today to draw near him, to be available to the profound impression he may leave for us. We certainly do this through prayer, but we also do this in the ways that we minister to one another and make ourselves available to the sufferings of others. If we live lives that strive to imitate Christ, Jesus will reciprocate. As the Letter from James says, “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.”

Saint of the day: On October 20, 1870 in Hungary, Ladislaus Batthyany-Strattmann was born into an ancient noble Hungarian family, the sixth of ten brothers. His family moved to Austria when he was six years old, and his mother died when he was 12. When of age, he studied agriculture, chemistry, physics, philosophy, literature, music, and medicine at the University of Vienna, graduating with a medical degree in 1900. On November 10, 1898, he married Countess Maria Teresa Coreth, a pious woman, and the couple had thirteen children; the whole family attended Mass and prayed the Rosary every day.

In 1902, Ladislaus opened a private 25-bed hospital in Kittsee, Austria. He worked there as a general practitioner, and later when he had more staff, specialized as a surgeon and eye doctor. During World War I, the flood of injured soldiers required him to expand the hospital to 120 beds.

In 1915, Ladislaus inherited the castle of Körmend, Hungary, and with it the family name Strattman and the title of Prince. In 1920, he moved his family to the castle and turned one wing into a hospital specializing in eye diseases. Ladislaus’ skills led him to become an internationally known specialist in opthamology.

Dr. Ladislaus never turned away a patient because they could not pay, and provided funds to the destitute. He treated all, kept them in hospital as long as necessary, gave away medications, accepted what patients would pay when they would, but never asked a fee from anyone except that they pray an Our Father for him. He prayed over each patient before working on them, knew that his skills were simply God working through his hands, and saw his family fortune as a way to help the poor. He was considered a saint in life by his family, his patients, and fellow healers. He died January 22, 1931 at Vienna, Austria of bladder cancer and was buried in the family tomb in Güssing, Hungary.

Spiritual reading: A truly loyal friend sees nothing in his friend but his heart. (Spiritual Friendship by Aelred of Rielvaux)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 21, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man

with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

Reflection on the gospel: The passage from the gospel we read today suggests that Jesus inspired sufficient opposition even early in his ministry that the threat of death was never far from him. Mark in this passage clearly links the opposition of the Pharisees and the Herodians to Jesus’ interpretation of the law and his willingness to challenge conventional interpretations of religious duties. If we are to imitate Christ, we should never fear pursuing what we perceive to be the right course and the best action even if the face of the opposition of authority.

Saint of the day: Born in about 1580 in England, Alban Bartholomew Roe converted to Catholicism. He studied at the English College at Douai, France, but was dismissed for an infraction of discipline. A Benedictine priest in 1612 at Dieulouard, France, he became a missionary to England. He was arrested and exiled in 1615 for his work. Returning to England in 1618, he was arrested again. He sat in prison until 1623 when the Spanish ambassador obtained his release on condition that Alban leave England. Soon after, Alban returned to his homeland and continued his covert ministry. Arrested again in 1625, he lay in prison for 17 years before being tried and condemned to death for the crime of priesthood. One of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, he died with Blessed Thomas Reynolds. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered on January 21, 1642 at Tyburn, England.

Spiritual reading of the day: You are mistaken in thinking that the cause of your disquiet, or little progress in the Lord, is due to the place, or your superiors, or your brethren. This disquiet comes from within and not from without. I mean from your lack of humility, obedience, prayer, and your slight mortification, in a word, your little fervor in advancing in the way of perfection. You could change residence, superiors, and brethren, but if you do not change the interior man, you will never do good. And you will everywhere be the same, unless you succeed in being humble, obedient, devout, and mortified in your self-love. This is the only change you should seek. I mean that you should try to change the interior man and lead him back like a servant to God. (From a Letter to Batolomeo Romano by Ignatius of Loyola, 1555)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

As we begin this new day in America, let us join our prayers with the prayers of Bishop Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, who delivered the opening invocation at the commencement of the inaugural festivities in Washington on Sunday:

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 2:23-28

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: When we have a “how to” guide to shape our behavior, we don’t have to give it a lot of thought. The less we have to think about it, the less meaning we give to it, and the less our behavior is the product of our relationship to the situation where we find ourselves. Our behavior becomes rote and devoid of any deep meaning. When Jesus says that that man is not made for the sabbath but the sabbath for man, he reassures us that rules are meant to be broken, and our lives are meant to be creative responses to the realities that surround us. We are called to be little less than gods! Divinity is creativity: let us live our lives creatively that we be images of the creative God.

Saint of the day: Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi was born in September 1903 in Igboezum, Aguleri, Nigeria as Iwemmaduegbunam. The son of Tabansi of Igboezunu-Aguleri and Ejikwevi of Nteje, he was one of five children. Though his parents were non-Christian, they sent the boy to live with and be educated by a Christian uncle. He was baptized on January 7, 1912, and given the name Michael. Studied at Onitsha and Aguleri. Accidentally blinded in his left eye while playing with schoolmates. He taught at Holy Trinity School, Onitsha in 1920 and became the headmaster of Saint Joseph’s School, Aguleri in 1924. He entered Saint Paul’s Seminary at Igbarium in 1925 and was ordained on December

19, 1937 in the archdiocese of Onitsha, Nigeria. From 1937 to 1950 he served as parish priest in Nnewi, then Dunukofia, Akpu/Ajilla, and finally Aguleri, travelling on foot for hours to minister to his widely-scattered parishioners. One of his notable ministries was his work with women planning to marry. He was a pilgrim to Rome in 1950. Traveling to England, he became a an oblate at the monastery of Mount Saint Bernard and took the name Brother Cyprian. He lived the rest of his life as a Trappist monk at the monastery and died January 20, 1964 at the Royal Infirmary, Leicester, England. He was buried in the cemetery of Saint Bernard’s monastery but was later re-interred in the priest’s cemetery, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Onitsha, Nigeria on October 17, 1986. His birth name means, “let human malice not kill me.”

Spiritual reading: To attack poverty by preaching voluntary poverty seems like madness. But again, it is direct action . . . . To be profligate in our love and generosity, spontaneous, to cut all the red tape of bureaucracy! The more you give away, the more the Lord will give you to give. It is a growth in faith. It is the attitude of the man whose life of common sense and faith is integrated. To live with generosity in times of crisis is only common sense. In the time of earthquake, flood, fire, people give recklessly; even governments do this. (“The More You Give” by Dorothy Day)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 19, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 2:18-22

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to Jesus and objected, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”

Reflection on the gospel: We have lived through times where people have sought reassurance in old answers to the enduring questions and sometimes have made idols of culturally-conditioned answers that arose in another age to address situations in another age. There are many examples across a wide spectrum of concerns, such as systematic theology, ethics, and scripture study, but let’s just attend to an intimate experience for all of us in the Catholic tradition, how we worship as a community. The Tridentine Mass, the Mass universal in Roman Catholicism until the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, was a 16th century convention that unified breathtakingly diverse Catholic liturgical practices that varied from province to province and even town to town in the Middle Ages. The need for the unity that Mass of Trent imposed reflected the Church’s response to the Reformation, and the capacity of the printing press to disseminate a standard set of practices made such unity possible. Scholarship has revealed that that Mass bore only the outline of the Eucharist that the early Church celebrated, and it certainly was not the Eucharistic practice Jesus “modeled” for the disciples. Jesus’ own experience, and the experience of Christians across the centuries, was the adaptability of the Gospel to the cultural conditions prevalent in different communities at different times. This is what the Lord meant by pouring wine into new wine skins. We are not to make idols of outward forms, such as a particular liturgical practice. We live in news times with immense new scholarship and new philosophical understandings. The message cannot stand still. We ever must explore how to make the enduring gospel relevant to the age in which we live, comprehensible in the language of the day, and alive in the ears of our hearers.

Saint of the day: We celebrate today in the United States the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., a person recognized in the calendar of the Episcopal Church as a human being of heroic virtue. Born on January 15, 1929, King was an African American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the American civil rights movement. His main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights in the United States and he is frequently referenced as a human rights icon today.

A Baptist minister, King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, serving as its first president.

King’s efforts led to the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. There, he raised public consciousness of the civil rights movement and established himself as one of the greatest orators in U.S. history.

In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent means. By the time of his death in 1968, he had refocused his efforts on ending poverty and opposing the Vietnam War, both from a religious perspective.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a U.S. national holiday in 1986.

Spiritual reading of the day: We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 18, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

John 1:35-42

John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi,” which translated means Teacher, “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah,” which is translated Christ. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas,” which is translated Peter.

Reflection on the gospel: As we move out of the week after the celebration of the Lord’s baptism, we proceed more deeply into a reflection on the establishment of his ministry in the days, weeks, and months that followed his baptism. One element of that period was the call of his disciples. The gospel repeatedly suggest to us that there was a power in the Lord’s presence, a charisma, if you will, that made people abandon their families and histories to follow Jesus. Even till this day, we who have not seen with our own eyes and touched with our own hands continue to feel this power. We are so used to the universality of the church, its reach to the ends of the earth, that we sometimes forget how humble the origins of our faith were. When the Word of God pitched his tent with us, he went to small backwaters of a powerless and broken state. Yet the men and women he chose were able to spread news of him throughout the Roman Empire in the several decades that followed and afforded a seed that continues to blow on the wind till this day. What lesson may we take from this but that God not only can, but does, build great things from small starts.

Spiritual reading: Pray about everything to the Lord, to our most pure Lady, and to your Guardian Angel; and they will teach you everything, either directly or through others. (Letter by Theophan the Recluse)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 17, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 2:13-17

Jesus went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them. As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. Jesus said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed Jesus. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many who followed him. Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors and said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus heard this and said to them, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Reflection on today’s gospel: Jesus’ co-religionists did not believe that tax collectors were good Jews. The scandal that Jesus causes them is not that Jesus tried to induce in them a new way of life; if he in fact had converted tax collectors to strict observation of the law, the scribes would have celebrated him as a national hero. In their minds, Jesus’ scandal was that he would associate with tax collectors without calling them to conversion. Indeed, there is no evidence anywhere in the gospels that other than Levi (Matthew), any tax collectors abandoned their profession because of their association with Jesus. What Jesus teaches us here is unconditional love. Jesus teaches us simply to “be with” the other, to commune with them, to stand in the presence of the other. Jesus teaches us both to love and tolerate the other. It is a radical message, unconditional love, that is all to easy to ignore. But it is the lesson that the Master teaches by his example in today’s gospel.

Saint of the day: Anthony of Egypt, the Father of Cenobites and the Father of Western Monasticism, was born in 251 at Heracleus, Egypt. Following the death of his parents when he was about 20, he insured that his sister completed her education; sold his house, furniture, and the land he owned; gave the proceeds to the poor, joined the anchorites who lived nearby, and moved into an empty sepulcher. At age 35, he moved alone to the desert, living 20 years in an abandoned fort.

Anthony barricaded the place for solitude, but admirers broke in. He agreed to be the spiritual counselor of others. His recommendation was to base life on the Gospel. The word about him spread, and so many disciples arrived that Anthony founded two monasteries on the Nile, one at Pispir and one at Arsinoe. Many of those who lived near him supported themselves by making baskets and brushes.

Anthony briefly left his seclusion in 311, going to Alexandria to fight Arianism, and to comfort the victims of Maximinus’ persecution. At some point in his life, he met with his sister again. She, too, had withdrawn from the world, and directed a community of nuns. Anthony retired to the desert, living in a cave on Mount Colzim.

Descriptions paint him as uniformly modest and courteous. His example led many to take up the monastic life, and to follow his way. Anthony died in 356 at Mount Colzim of natural causes. His friend late in life was Saint Paul the Hermit who buried the aged anchorite. Anthony’s biography was written by his friend Saint Athanasius.

Spiritual reading of the day: We are all called to be saints. Every one of us has heard, and still hears, ringing in his conscience, the command: “Climb higher;” higher, ever higher, until while we are on this earth we can reach up to grasp the heavens, until we can join our saints, whether they be the venerable saints of old or the wonderful saints of modern times, who were our own contemporaries, and in whom our Mother the Church already rejoices. (Writings and Addresses While Patriarch of Venice by Angelo Roncalli)