Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

John 15:26-27; 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Happy Pentecost! The Holy Spirit is our Counselor, our Guide, and our Peace: come, let us embrace her. Let us ask her for her good counsel. Let us plead for her to give us wisdom. Let us fall down and worship the Holy Spirit of God.

Happy Pentecost when the Seven-Fold Spirit rains down upon us!

Spirit derives from the Latin word spiritus, a word that can mean breath. Holy Spirit of God, animate us! Enliven us!

Spirit derives from the Latin word spiritus, a word that can mean wind. Holy Spirit, refresh us like a gentle breeze that comes on us by surprise on a hot day!

O bright and true Spirit of God, who loves us into existence, make our relationships with one another and God full of light and faithfulness!

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blessed!

Spiritual reading: The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden, for he is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as he approaches.

The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console. The Spirit comes to enlighten the mind first of the one who receives him, and then, through him, the minds of others as well. (St. Cyril of Jerusalem)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

John 21:20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper and had said, “Master, who is the one who will betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours? You follow me.” So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die. But Jesus had not told him that he would not die, just “What if I want him to remain until I come? What concern is it of yours?”

It is this disciple who testifies to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.

Reflection on the gospel reading: In contemporary biography, writers seek to present what they know about people, questions like what their subjects liked and disliked, how they went about answering questions, and the ways they related to other people. Ancient biographers, however, weren’t interested in questions like personal predilections or cognitive and social styles; they focused on stories about what people said and what they did.

The gospels, I think, leave us with a somewhat dissatisfying sense of our Lord’s personality, that is, until we get to the resurrection accounts. Somehow, the accounts of the resurrected Lord so excited the authors that they left us traces not only of the resurrected Lord’s deeds and sayings but also his attitudes and approaches toward people. This gospel presents perhaps the best example of what I see in the resurrection accounts.

In today’s passage, Peter apparently exhibited a certain preoccupation with what was going to happen to someone else. While the Lord is talking to Peter about Peter, Peter seems to want to change the subject. He effectively says, “Hey, Lord, what about that guy over there?” And our Lord replies, “Peter, never mind that guy over there. What happens to him is not your concern. Pay attention to what I am telling you: you, Peter, are to follow me.”

So it is with us. We naturally are concerned with what happens to the people around us, but we ultimately exercise responsibility for our own behavior. We need to keep our eye on the ball: Jesus has charged us, just as he charged Peter, to follow him. If we do this, we will discharge our duties to one another, as well.

Saint of the day: Joan of Arc is the patroness of soldiers and of France. On January 6, 1412, Joan of Arc was born to pious parents of the French peasant class, at the obscure village of Domremy, near the province of Lorraine. At a very early age, she heard voices: those of St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret.

At first the messages were personal and general. Then at last came the crowning order. In May, 1428, her voices “of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret” told Joan to go to the King of France and help him reconquer his kingdom. For at that time the English king was after the throne of France, and the Duke of Burgundy, the chief rival of the French king, was siding with him and gobbling up evermore French territory.

After overcoming opposition from churchmen and courtiers, the seventeen year old girl was given a small army with which she raised the siege of Orleans on May 8, 1429. She then enjoyed a series of spectacular military successes, during which the King was able to enter Rheims and be crowned with her at his side.

In May 1430, as she was attempting to relieve Compiegne, she was captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English when Charles and the French did nothing to save her. After months of imprisonment, she was tried at Rouen by a tribunal presided over by the infamous Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, who hoped that the English would help him to become archbishop.

Through her unfamiliarity with the technicalities of theology, Joan was trapped into making a few damaging statements. When she refused to retract the assertion that it was the saints of God who had commanded her to do what she had done, she was condemned to death as a heretic, sorceress, and adulteress, and burned at the stake on May 30, 1431. She was nineteen years old. Some thirty years later, she was exonerated of all guilt.

It is perhaps interesting to note that since the Church condemned Joan to death and executed her, though the Church has acknowledged her holiness, it never has declared her to be a martyr. But for my part, I think her witness to her voices and her conscience is compelling indeed. I think we well might regard her as the patron saint of conscience and call on her to stay faithful to our own visions.

Spiritual reading: Turn yourself round like a piece of clay and say to the Lord:

I am clay, and you, Lord, the potter. Make of me what you will. (John of Avila)

Pastoral letter from the CACINA bishops

Posted in Christianity, ecclesiology by cacina on May 29, 2009


Wherefore, if Holy Scripture proclaims that God is love, and that love is of God, and works this in us that we abide in God and He in us, and that hereby we know this, because He has given us of His Spirit, then the Spirit Himself is God, who is love.

Peace! Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 On Pentecost we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit with her seven-fold gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude (or courage), knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. These gifts come to us with an invitation to prayerfully continue the discernment process we began at this year’s General Assembly. The gifts come to us with an invitation to life and challenges us, like the members of the early Church, to say yes to all God has in store for us. This Spirit of God comes to us with the surging power of love, which has the power to disorient us and shake us out of our complacency.

St Augustine reminds us that it is this unceasing love at the heart of the Trinity that descends on us at Pentecost and imbues us with this same love which unites the Trinity, and has the power to unite us a Church in our witness to the world of this ancient message of God’s all inclusive love.

At our recent General Assembly the Holy Spirit moved us to renew our commitment to proclaim to the whole world that God’s love is non-discriminatory, that we of CACINA are inspired by the Holy Spirit, in this time and place, to proclaim a message of peace and welcome home to people who are searching for an authentic Catholic expression of faith.

We are moved by the Holy Spirit at this Pentecost, with faith and courage, with understanding and piety, with counsel and knowledge, and with wisdom and fear of the Lord to go out to the whole world with this message of God’s powerful and disorienting love.

At this Pentecost, we of CACINA are:

• inspired to strive to be a holy people and to bring his holiness to fruition in our individual lives and our parish communities;

• called to receive this grace and to share it with all whom we meet;

• challenged, like Peter and John, to proclaim the healing power of the name of Jesus (Acts 3:6), to say to the disinvested, come home, and to the oppressed that there is liberation in CACINA’s expression of our theology; and most importantly,

• commissioned to be living witnesses to the power of God’s love moving in our Church and our lives.

At this Pentecost let us renew or covenant to each other, to our Mission, and to our Church. Let us hold the world and each other in our prayers and ask for the grace of the seven-fold gifts to truly live our anthem: “All are welcome, All are welcome, in this place.”

Given Under Our Seal and Signature
On the Feast of Pentecost, Anno Domini 2009
The College of Bishops of the Catholic Apostolic Church in America.

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

John 21:15-19

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them, he said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: This passage is my favorite passage in all of the scriptures. Jesus has risen from the dead, and he appears to his disciples at the shore of Lake Tiberius. This passage describes a very human interaction between Peter and the risen Lord. Peter has denied the Lord three times even though he said at the Last Supper that even if all the other disciples abandoned Jesus, he would never abandon Jesus. Of course, Peter after the Lord’s arrest three times denied the Lord.

In this narrative, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me more than these other ones do?” Peter affirms that he loves the Lord, but he doesn’t boast that he loves him any more than the other ones do. “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you,” he says, but does not repeat, “more than these,” suggesting that he is chastened by what he did. Then the Lord tells him to minister to his people. Just as Peter three times denied the Lord in the courtyard of the High Priest’s house, Jesus inquires of Peter three times whether Peter loves him. The threefold quest by Jesus for attestation of Peter’s love is not lost on Peter, who is “distressed that he had said to him a third time, ‘Do you love me?’”

We live in relationship to one another, and we too frequently strain the bonds of affection among us. We ever and always need to be ready to forgive, but just as relationship is a process, healing broken bonds in relationships is a process. We see in today’s gospel, Jesus’ readiness to heal injured ties but his simultaneous awareness that both parties must give and take in the restoration of friendship after some form of betrayal.

The passage we read today ends with Jesus’ invitation to Peter and, by extension, Jesus’ invitation to us. As we move through our relationship with Jesus, what is incumbent upon us in this relationship is that we follow him.

Saint of the day: Blessed Joseph Gérard, OMI (March 12, 1831-May 29, 1914) was a French Catholic missionary who chiefly worked among the Basotho people of modern day Lesotho and the Free State province of South Africa. He was born in Bouxières-aux-Chênes, in the Diocese of Nancy and received his religious training from the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, whom he joined at the age of twenty. He wasn’t particularly gifted academically, but was quick at learning languages, which would later help him in learning the Zulu and Sesotho languages he used for his missionary work. Gérard moved to South Africa in 1853, and never returned to his home country again.

Gérard was ordained as a priest at Pietermaritzburg in 1854. He started his work as a missionary among the Zulus in the Vicariate of Natal, but met with little progress there. In 1862 he joined Father François Allard, the Bishop of Natal, in starting the first Catholic mission in Lesotho—there already was a Protestant congregation founded by the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society. With permission from the Basotho chief Moshoeshoe I, they founded the Motse-oa-‘M’a-Jesu (Village of the Mother of Jesus) mission around 32 kilometers (20 miles) south of Thaba Bosiu, at the site of present day Roma. By all accounts, Gérard was well-respected by Moshoeshoe for remaining in the country during the Free State-Basotho Wars, and it has been said that it was at Gérard’s encouragement that the chief sought British intervention at the end of the conflict. However, Gérard’s missionary work still progressed slowly: by the end of 1879, there were only 700 Catholics in the country.

In 1875, Gérard founded the St. Monica mission in the Leribe District in northern Lesotho. From there, he serviced not only the Basotho of Lesotho, but also those who lived in the neighboring Orange Free State. He returned to the Roma congregation in 1898, where he continued his work as a missionary for the rest of his life. He died on May 29, 1914, aged 83. As a result of the work partially initiated by Gérard, Catholic Christianity is the majority religion in present day Lesotho.

Spiritual reading: What then was Jesus’ attitude towards life? There was in him no world-weariness, no strengthless melancholy, no timid shrinking from the face. He looked reality full in the face, and gripped it with both his hands, and with his whole heart accepted it. (Karl Adam)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

John 17:20-26

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus continues in today’s gospel his priestly prayer for the unity of his followers. This subject, of course, is a touchy one for those of us who share in modern times the one baptism of Jesus Christ. Various rifts over the course of the history of the Church have splintered us into different traditions. In light of this experience, we might despair and be tempted to believe that Jesus’ prayer has failed and failed badly at that.

But I, for my part, do not believe Jesus’ prayer has failed. The truth about God is very large indeed, and it seems impossible to me that any one narrative about God comprehends the truth about God. God has made all of us in God’s own image, and yet we all exhibit many differences. This fact suggests to me that the truth about God requires many different narratives to explain it. God needs God’s many churches to provide homes for the many narratives that attempt to explain the truth about God and appeal to the hearts of all of those of us who would believe. So I say, rejoice in our Christian plurality, for in it, we draw closer to the one true God.

Saint of the day: Born in about 923 in Menthon, Savoy, Saint Bernard of Menthon was the son of a rich and noble family who were able to provide him a complete education. His family wanted him to marry, but he snuck away to join a Benedictine monastery. Ordained a priest, he evangelized the people of the Alps for over 40 years, he eventually became the vicar-general of Alpine diocese.

Bernard started a patrol that cleared robbers from the mountains, and he established hospices for travelers and pilgrims to Rome. He died in Italy in 1008.

His fame, however, probably results most from his association with a certain breed of large dogs. This breed, trained to search for lost victims in the mountains, is named for this very saint, and I am sure you know about them:

Spiritual reading:

He who has come to men
dwells where we cannot tell
nor sight reveal him,
until the hour has struck
when the small heart does break
with hunger for him;
those who do merit least,
those whom no tongue does praise
the first to know him,
and on the face of the earth
the poorest village street
blossoming for him.

Jane Tyson Clement

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

John 17:11b-19

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely.

I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In today’s gospel, Jesus continues his prayer to the Father. He asks the Father that his apostles, and by extension, that we, completely may share Jesus’ joy. He asks that we not be removed from the world but only that God will shelter us from its evil influences. In doing so, Jesus asks the Father that we be dedicated to the truth.

We live in an age that is increasingly comfortable with diversity. We pray with Jesus that in the midst of our diversity of cultures, backgrounds, beliefs, and practices, we always may recognize and honor, as Paul says to us in Ephesians, that there is but one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.

Saint of the day: At the end of the sixth century anyone would have said that Augustine had found his niche in life. Looking at this respected prior of a monastery, almost anyone would have predicted he would spend his last days there, instructing, governing, and settling even further into this sedentary life.

But Gregory the Great had lived under Augustine’s rule in that same monastery. When he decided it was time to send missionaries to Anglo-Saxon England, he didn’t choose those with restless natures or the young looking for new worlds to conquer. He chose Augustine and thirty monks to make the unexpected, and dangerous, trip to England.

Missionaries had gone to Britain years before but the Saxon conquest of England had forced these Christians into hiding. Augustine and his monks were to bring these Christians back into the fold and convince the warlike conquerors to become Christians themselves.

Every step of the way they heard the horrid stories of the cruelty and barbarity of their future hosts. By the time they had reached France the stories became so frightening that the monks turned back to Rome. Gregory had heard encouraging news that England was far more ready for Christianity than the stories would indicate, including the marriage of King Ethelbert of Kent to a Christian princess, Bertha. He sent Augustine and the monks on their way again fortified with his belief that now was the time for evangelization.

King Ethelbert himself wasn’t as sure, but he was a just king and curious. So he went to hear what the missionaries had to say after they landed in England. But he was just as afraid of them as they were of him. Fearful that they would use magic on them, he held the meeting in the open air. There he listened to what they had to say about Christianity. He did not convert then but was impressed enough to let them continue to preach — as long as they didn’t force anyone to convert.

They didn’t have to — the king was baptized in 597. Unlike other kings who forced all subjects to be baptized as soon as they were converted, Ethelbert left religious a free choice. Nonetheless the following year many of his subjects were baptized.

Augustine was ordained bishop of the English and more missionaries arrived from Rome to help with the new task. Augustine had to be very careful because, although the English had embraced the new religion they still respected the old. Under the wise orders of Gregory the Great, Augustine aided the growth from the ancient traditions to the new life by consecrating pagan temples for Christian worship and turning pagan festivals into feast days of martyrs. Canterbury was built on the site of an ancient temple. Augustine was only in England for eight years before he died in 605.

Spiritual reading: Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe. (Augustine of Canterbury)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

John 17:1-11a

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.

“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: John puts the words in today’s gospel on the lips of Jesus at the Last Supper, but they are really words that the resurrected and exalted Jesus in heaven speaks even now into the ear of his Father. The words are Jesus’ prayer of recognition of what has happened to us as the result of his mission. The words are the hope to which we as Christians aspire.

Saint of the day: Philip Neri was born July 22, 1515 at Florence, Italy. Though he was related to Italian nobility, Philip came from a poor family. His father, Francisco Neri, worked as a notary. Philip’s brother died in childhood, but his two sisters, Caterina and Elisabetta survived. He was a pray young person who was taught the humanities by the Dominicans. He moved to San Germano in 1533 to help some family members with their business, and while he was there, he would escape to a local Dominican chapel in the mountains. He received inspiration while in a deeply prayerful state that he had an apostolate in Rome. To follow his inspiration, he cut himself off from his family, and went there.

Philip was befriended by Galeotto Caccia who took Philip in and paid him to tutor his two sons. Philip wrote poetry in Latin and Italian and studied philosophy and theology. When he tired of learning, he sold all his books and gave the money to the poor. He began to visit and care for the sick, and impoverished pilgrims. He founded a society of like-minded folk to do the same. He became a friend of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. A layman, he lived in the city as a hermit. During Easter season of 1544, while praying in the catacomb of San Sebastiano, he received a vision of a globe of fire that entered his chest, and he experienced an ecstasy that physically enlarged his heart.

With Persiano Rose, he founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity. He began to preach, and many people came to the Lord as the result of his preaching. In 1550, he considered retiring to the life of a solitary hermit, but received further visions that told him his mission was in Rome. Later he considered missionary work in India but further visions convinced him to stay in Rome. He entered the priesthood in 1551, heard confessions by the hour, and could tell penitents their sins before they confessed. He began working with youth, finding safe places for them to play, becoming involved in their lives.

Philip’s popularity was such that he was accused of forming his own sect but was cleared of this baseless charge. He founded the Congregation of the Oratory, a group of priests dedicated to preaching and teaching but which suffered from accusations of heresy because of the involvement of laymen as preachers. In later years he was beset by several illnesses, each of which was in turn cured through prayer. He died May 27, 1595.

Spiritual reading: For as the body is clad in cloth, and the flesh in skin and the bone in the flesh and the heart in the whole,

so are we, soul and body, clad in the Goodness of God and enclosed. (Revelation of Divine Love by Dame Juliana of Norwich)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

John 16:29-33

The disciples said to Jesus, “Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now? Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus tells us that in this world, we will have trouble, but that we should have courage because he has conquered the world. On this Memorial Day, we recall the men and women who died in our battles abroad. War and conflict are among the troubles that the Lord knew we would endure, and the loss of the men and women who have died in them is another trouble we have suffered. But Jesus has promised us that a day will come when he will wipe away every tear. When sorrow surrounds us, and we despair for our troubles, let us still remember that he already has borne the cost and, in this time in between, this already but not yet, what we are watching is how God wins God’s victory. Jesus already has conquered the world, and our troubles are shadows in the bright glow of his ultimate triumph.

Saint of the day: Bede the Venerable was born in 672 in England around the time the country was finally completely Christianized. He was raised from age seven in the abbey of Saints Peter and Paul at Wearmouth-Jarrow, and lived there his whole life. A Benedictine monk, he was the spiritual student of the founder, Saint Benedict Biscop. Ordained in 702 by Saint John of Beverley, Bede was a teacher and author. He wrote about history, rhetoric, mathematics, music, astronomy, poetry, grammar, philosophy, hagiography, homiletics, and Bible commentary.

Bede was known as the most learned man of his day, and his writings started the idea of dating this era from the incarnation of Christ, that is, he was the first person to use the notation AD for years after Christ. The central theme of Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica is of the Church using the power of its spiritual, doctrinal, and cultural unity to stamp out violence and barbarism. Our knowledge of England before the 8th century is mainly the result of Bede’s writing. He is called a Doctor of the Church. He died May 25, 735.

Spiritual reading: The universe is entirely consistent with itself, that there is an indestructible harmony among all intelligible things and a kind of cooperation which exists among all beings.

When I attach myself and cleave to what it truly being, I abide in that which always was, is now and ever shall be. (Gregory of Nyssa)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 16:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

Reflection on the gospel reading: We celebrate today the Feast of the Ascension. The name of the feast, and to a certain extent, the text that describes the event, seems to suggest to us that the Lord rose above his disciples like a person who climbed on-board a large helium balloon or a helicopter. In fact, this was not the case. The text says Jesus went to heaven. Heaven is not a place that exists in a directional relationship with physical reality. It is a state of being in the presence of God. The ascension was not a launching of Jesus into space but a translation of his being from immediacy in our world to assumption of his place at God’s right hand. The ascension is about Jesus taking his place with God.

But in all the accounts of the ascension, Jesus commissions the apostles to carry on his work, and by extension, he commissions the Church, that is, he commissions us. If we look at the texts from today’s gospel and the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we can read ftwo different commissions and one promise that we as church have received from Jesus at the ascension:

1. We are to evangelize. This means that we are to preach the Gospel, not just by what we say but also by who we are and what we do.

2. We are to heal. It is not just the body that Jesus asks us to heal. He also commands us to pay attention to the rational and emotional processes that are constitutive elements of the human person.

3. We are to receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus has not left us orphans, but he has promised to be with us in his Spirit who will empower us to witness for Jesus.

Spiritual reading: Remember: if you want to make progress on the path and ascend to the places you have longed for, the important thing is not to think much but to love much, and so to do whatever best awakens you to love. (Teresa of Avila)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, politics, religion by Mike on May 22, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

John 16:20-23

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In this passage from the discourse at the Last Supper, Jesus repeats the themes that we read in yesterday’s gospel. There is the prediction of the disciple’s sorrow and the promise of their inevitable joy. There also is the new assurance that when joy comes, no one will be able to take it away. Finally, there is the reason why we pray in Jesus’ name, the promise we have received that what we ask in Jesus’ name, the Father will give us. Let us pray today, then, that we may be filled with the joy the Lord promises us in awareness of his resurrection.

Saint of the day: Saint Rita of Cascia was an Augustinian nun; she also is called Margarita. She was born in Roccaporena, near Spoleto, Italy, in 1381, and expressed from an early age the desire to become a nun. Her elderly parents insisted that she be married at the age of twelve to a man described in accounts of her life as cruel and harsh. She spent eighteen extremely unhappy years, had two sons, and was finally widowed when her husband was killed in a brawl. Both sons also died, and Rita, still anxious to become a nun, tried unsuccessfully to enter the Augustinians in their convent at Cascia. She was refused because she was a widow and because of the requirement that all sisters should be virgins.

Finally, in 1413, the order gave her entry, and she earned fame for her austerity, devotion to prayer, and charity. In the midst of chronic illnesses, she received visions and wounds on her forehead which resembled the crown of thorns. She died on May 22 at Cascia, and many miracles were reported instantly. She is honored as a patron saint of hopeless causes.

Spiritual reading: You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress. (Athanasius)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, politics, religion, scripture by Mike on May 21, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

John 16:16-20

Jesus said to his disciples: “A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What does this mean that he is saying to us, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” So they said, “What is this ‘little while’ of which he speaks? We do not know what he means.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing with one another what I said, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus, in his discourse at the Last Supper, warns the disciples that they are about to be disappointed. The disciples had clear expectations about what they thought the messiah would be, and Jesus was about to disappoint them as he endured his passion. Even so, Jesus promises his disciples that their sorrow will turn to joy. Jesus’ promise to his followers on the night before he died is his promise to us now. We shall taste tears: this is true. But Jesus promises us that our tears in the end will become joy. We simply must trust and wait on the Lord.

Saint of the day Adílio Daronch, the third of Pedro Daronch and Judite Segabinazzi’s eight children, was born on 25 October 1908 at Dona Francisca in the Cachoeira do Sul municipality of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. In 1911 the family moved to Passo Fundo and in 1913 to Nonoai. Adílio was one of the adolescents who accompanied Fr González on his long and tiring pastoral visits, which also included the native Kaingang Indians. He was also a faithful altar server and a student in the school founded by Fr Manuel.

On 21 May 1924 at nearly 16 years of age this youth courageously gave his witness for Christ alongside his mentor. The Bishop of Santa Maria asked the Spanish priest to visit the Teutonic colonies in the Três Passos forest, close to the boarder of Uruguay. After celebrating Holy Week in the parish of Nonoai and notwithstanding that the area was rife with revolutionary movements, Fr Manuel set out on this dangerous missionary journey, accompanied by his brave altar server and protégé, Adílio.

Along the route the priest stopped in Palmeria, where he administered the sacraments and exhorted the local revolutionaries to mutual respect, if for no other reason than the common Christian faith that they shared. The worst extremists did not appreciate his message, nor the fact that he gave Christian burial to the victims of the local bands. Thus, Fr Manuel began to be viewed with suspicion. Continuing their missionary journey, they again stopped along the way to ask directions and to celebrate Holy Mass; the day was 20 May 1924. Desiring to bring God’s grace and to proclaim the Good News, the ardent missionaries did not heed the warning of the locals, who tried to dissuade them from venturing into the forest. Therefore, they accepted the “kind assistance” of the military personnel who offered to accompany them to Três Passos. In this way they fell into the trap prepared for them and were taken to a remote area of the forest, where they were bound to separate trees and shot on 21 May 1924, martyrs of the Faith.

Although human beings refused to accept the holy martyrs’ message of mutual respect, it seems nature did, since no wild beast or animal touched them: the inhabitants of Três Passos found their bodies still intact four days later. Their remains were buried nearby for 40 years. In 1964 their bodies were exhumed and translated to the parish church of Nonoai, and a monument was erected on the place of their martyrdom.

Spiritual reading: All those who openly embrace the blessing of peace, and loath and despise its contrary, strife, are close to God and things divine. (Gregory of Nyssa)

Carry the Gospel with You

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

Gospel reading of the day:

John 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus repeatedly has assured us throughout the Gospel of John that what he tells us he has received from the Father. In today’s gospel, in the promise he makes to send the Holy Spirit, he assures us that what the Spirit tells us also comes from the Father and that the Spirit will guide us according to the Father’s will. As a people committed to the Gospel, we need always to pray that the Spirit guide us into the truth so that we may pass on with fidelity to others what we ourselves have received.

Saint of the day: Born in 1380 in Italy, Bernardine of Siena was a Franciscan. Priest, itinerant preacher, and theological writer, his preaching skills were so great, and the conversions so numerous, that he has become associated with all areas of speaking, advertising, and public relations. Bernardine’s charismatic preaching filled the piazzas of Italian cities. Thousands of listeners flocked to hear him and to participate in dramatic rituals, which included collective weeping, bonfires of vanities, and exorcisms. In the Franciscan tradition, he was a renowned peacemaker who tried to calm feuding clans and factions in the turbulent political world of the Renaissance. His preaching visits would often culminate in mass reconciliations, as listeners were persuaded to exchange the bacio di pace, or kiss of peace.

Bernardino was sensitive to the demands of secular life and tried to negotiate between Christian ethics and a conflicting code of honor that stressed retaining face in a public world. He argued that the catalyst of civil discord in the urban setting was malicious gossip, which led to insults, and, too often, vendetta by aggressive males. His surprising allies in his peacekeeping mission were the women who comprised the majority of his audience. He died in 1444 at Aquila, Italy.

Spiritual reading: The union of my soul with God is my wealth in poverty and joy in deepest afflictions. (Collected Writings by Elizabeth Seton)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

John 16:5-11

Jesus said to his disciples: “Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus tells us in today’s gospel that his presence as he was present to his disciples two thousand years ago is a limitation. He must go, so that in his Spirit has may illuminate the world with his righteousness and restore all things in right proportion.

Illumine our hearts and minds, O Holy Spirit of God, that we may be of use to you and those you place on our paths.

Saint of the day: Peter Wright, S.J. was born to a Protestant family in England in 1603. He converted to Catholicism and worked in a country lawyer’s office for 10 years. He enlisted in the army, was assigned to Holland, but deserted after a month. He studied at the Jesuit seminary in Ghent, Belgium and in Rome and was ordained a priest. He joined the Jesuits in 1629 at Watten and held posts at Liege and Saint-Omer. A chaplain to English soldiers in Flanders, he returned to England with Sir Henry Gage in the spring of 1644 and served as chaplain to the Royalist army during the English Civil War. A chaplain to the Marquis of Winchester, he was arrested for his faith in London on Candlemas Day 1651 during the post-war oppression of Catholicism by Oliver Cromwell and was lodged at Newgate prison. Martyred before 20,000 spectators, he was hanged on May 19, 1651 (Whit Monday) at Tyburn, England. Though he was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, he was allowed to hang until death, and was spared the other tortures because the authorities feared reaction of the large crowd.

Spiritual reading: Eternal Trinity, Godhead, mystery deep as the sea, you could give me no greater gift than the gift of yourself. For you are a fire ever burning and never consumed, which itself consumes all the selfish love that fills my being.

Yes, you are a fire that takes away the coldness, illuminates the mind with its light, and causes me to know your truth. And I know that you are beauty and wisdom itself. The food of angels, you gave yourself to man in the fire of your love. (On Divine Providence by Saint Catherine of Siena)

Carry the Gospel with You

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

Gospel reading of the day:

John 15:26-16:4a

Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus in today’s gospel promises to send us the Holy Spirit. The word he uses, parakletes, means, “One who gives comfort; one who gives counsel.” The Spirit that Jesus gives us both comforts and counsels us.

Jesus promises elsewhere that he does not choose to leave us orphans. We who have found this wonderful little church, CACINA, know the truth of this statement. Though we felt adrift in our spiritual and religious lives, God knew each of us and knew there were out there in the world people of like mind who felt untethered from the world of formal religion. God drew us together in the place because of God’s promise to neither leave us discomfited, ill-advised, nor orphaned. And so we pray as a community that God may send God’s spirit into the hearts of all those who make their way in our church and all those who make their ways in their churches, for as God has been generous with us, we ask that God be generous with all:

Come Holy Spirit, Creator blessed, and in our hearts, take up thy rest.

Saint of the day: Eric IX of Sweden was King of Sweden from 1150. Eric did much to aid Christianity in his realm and was responsible for codifying the laws of his kingdom, which became known as King Eric’s Law (also the code of Uppland).

He led a victorious expedition against the marauding Finns and persuaded English bishop Henry of Uppsala to remain in Finnland to evangelize the Finns. Eric was killed and beheaded near Uppsala by rebelling Swedish nobles in the army of Magnus, son of the King of Denmark, who had invaded his territory, on May 18. Though never formally canonized, Eric was long considered the Patron of Sweden.

Spiritual reading: We know that our only ultimate strength is in the Lord and His Spirit, and faith must make us depend entirely on His will and providence.

One must then truly be detached and free in order not to be held and impeded by anything secondary or irrelevant. Which is another way of saying that poverty also is our strength. (Seeds by Thomas Merton)

Carry the gospel with you

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

Gospel reading of the day:

John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel reading that we have in our liturgical cycle today occurred last week during the weekday as well. As I mentioned several days ago, this gospel reading assures us that love produces joy, the same joy that Jesus himself experiences.

Many psychologists interest in human emotion have described emotion in terms of primary and secondary emotion. Our primary emotions seem to be innate mechanisms hardwired at birth that react to stimuli such as size, span, motion, sounds, and certain bodily states. Research has suggested that these six basic emotions are universal across cultures. They include sadness, happiness, anger, disgust, surprise, and fear. Other researcher recently have proposed a seventh emotion, pride, may be universal, too. All other emotions are learned from our social circumstances and represent amalgams of different primary emotions, much the same way all the colors of the spectrum derive from red, blue, and yellow.

Some psychological researchers have suggested that love represents an amalgam between joy in the presence of another along with acceptance of the other. If this insight is true, our gospel might suggest that the normal situation of a Christian is joy and acceptance in the presence of the other.

It goes without saying that this is a tall order. But my reading suggests that the gospel calls on us to take other people on their own terms. Not only are we to tolerate them, but the gospel suggests that if we are faithful to Jesus, we ought to be filled with joy in the presence of even those among us whose presence in normal life may be hard to bear.

Spiritual reading: If you want peace within yourself you must unify all desires, which means that you must make all desires the aspects of one single desire, which means in turn, that you must love – you must will to obey – God above all things. (Gerald Vann, O.P.)

Carry the Gospel with You

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 16, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

John 15:18-21

Jesus said to his disciples: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Our call as Christians is to be the sign of contradiction. Jesus warns us in today’s gospel that when our lives do not set up a challenge to the way things are, we are at risk that we may have betrayed his message. Through our baptisms, we have received a vocation to prophesy, and that vocation is dangerous indeed. Let us pray that we may be seen as signs of contradiction in a world that too often loves too little.

Saint of the day: Born in November 1591 in Poland, Andrew Bobola eventually became a Jesuit missionary and martyr. He was born a member of a noble Polish family in 1590. He entered the Society of Jesus at Vilna in 1611 and became a priest in 1622. Parish priest at Vilna in 1625. He preached in the church of St. Casimir there. He took solemn vows in 1630 and was made superior of the Jesuits in Brobuisk. There he preached and distinguished himself by his work of mercy during a plague.

In 1636, Andrew was sent to the Lithuanian missions. A house was provided for him in Pinsk, Belarus, by Prince Radziwell, and he worked there despite attacks by Protestants and schismatics. On May 10, 1657, Andrew was kidnaped by two Cossacks who beat him and tied him to the saddles of their horses so they could drag him to a place of torture. He was partially flayed alive and finally decapitated on May 16, 1657. His remains were buried in Pinsk and then moved to Polosk.

Spiritual reading: I have never given the good God anything but love, and it is with love that He will repay. After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses.

I will spend my heaven in doing good upon earth. My ‘little way’ is the way of spiritual childhood, the way of trust and absolute self-surrender. (Therese of Lisieux)