Friday of the Twenty-First Week of the Year (year II)

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by revmtheogene on August 31, 2012

Read 1 Corinthians 1: 17-25 / Psalm 33: 1-2, 4-5, 10-11 / Matthew 25: 1-13 (Inclusive Lectionary Texts)

My friends I think we have to be mindful that we are not better than God. We can center ourselves in the center of all that is …God… then we can realize that the things we place our hopes in are not better than God. There is no real wisdom in the objects, people, places or things that we make the “God” of our existence. Are we fools for God? Does anything matter more to us than God? In the same way as Jesus and many other prophets, nothing else mattered but God. Of course things in our lives have their places of importance, but do we make these things in our lives greater God? So when the walls that separate us from God are down and we forget how perfect we have acted in front of certain people, do we then see all that really matters? Can we delight in being in the presence of God playing with us, cheerfully at play with all of creation?

It usually is customary when a person enters into a monastery and begins their life as a monastic, that the novice is usually directed by the novice master to remember to have fun along with their journey of faith. Of course the times of prayer, work, and study accompany the novice, but to have fun and remember to be cheerful. Ah, that is a vital ingredient in the training that the novice would need. Do we allow the wisdom of God to enter us, remain and play with us?

How foolish do we have to be? In the parable that Jesus told, I like to think that God would have come out for the other attendants who did not have enough oil for their lamps.  We may miss things like the attendants who forgot to buy enough oil. This is a lesson in remembering to be prepared.  But God is ever taking care of us and sending moments of joy, a joy that happens with grace as we allow the divine creation to enter into our very beings. Sometimes we will not be ready, but I like to think it all gets balanced out in the end. Has our foolishness prevented us from seeking the wisdom of God? In our journey in the Christ consciousness are we fools for Christ? Are we falling asleep?  How are we prepared to meet God in the moment?  Do we allow God to be God and take care of us?

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on August 31, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: We are not usually conscious of it, but there isn’t a moment that goes by where we are not making a decision about who we are. A Jesuit spiritual writer who lived in the eighteenth century, Jean Pierre de Caussade, considered the present moment to be a sacrament, because every moment presents an opportunity to meet God. Every moment offers a choice for us to decide who we are in this moment, and the decisions we make, the things we do right now, are how we create the person we desire to become. In today’s gospel, 10 virgins spend their time in preparation to meet the Bridegroom, and 10 virgins wile away their time. Life certainly requires time to relax and divert ourselves, but it is a project, and the cumulative effect of the choices in all the present moments through which we pass will leave a product at the end of our lives. Living as though God exists is not a thought process–it is a specific way of being oriented in thought and action to the present moment.

Saint of the day: Irish by birth, Aidan was a monk at Iona, Ireland. His name means, “fire.” Aidan studied under Saint Senan at Inish Cathay. He was bishop of Clogher by Ware and Lynch. He resigned the see to became a monk at Iona in about 630. He Saint Aidan of Lindisfarneevangelized Northumbria, England as a bishop at the behest of his friend the king, Saint Oswald of Northumbria. Once when pagans attacked Oswald’s forces at Bambrough, they piled wood around the city walls to burn it; Aidan prayed for help, and a change in wind blew the smoke and flames over the pagan army.

Recognized for his knowledge of the Bible, his eloquent preaching, his personal holiness, simple life, scholarship, and charity, he was said to be a miracle worker. He trained Saint Boswell. He also founded the Lindisfarne monastery that became not only a religious standard bearer, but a great storehouse of European literature and learning during the dark ages. Saint Bede is lavish in his praise of the episcopal rule of Aidan. Aidan died August 31, 651 at Bamborough of natural causes; the young Saint Cuthbert, a shepherd in the fields at the time, saw Aidan’s soul rise to heaven as a shaft of light. He is buried at Lindisfarne

Spiritual reading Today it is very fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately, it is very unfashionable to talk with them. (Mother Teresa)

Thursday of the Twenty-First Week of the Year (year II)

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by revmtheogene on August 30, 2012

Read 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 / Psalm 145:2-7 / Matthew 24:42-51

Paul acknowledges the gifts of others as well as his own bestowed by God.  There is no jealousy of each others’ gifts, and this frees him to do God’s work.  Sometimes we become intimidated by others’ gifts, comparing them with our own, and this turns to jealousy. When we are jealous, we are no longer doing what God is calling us to do through our own gifts. We tend to become comfortable with our gifts and stop using them and we are embarrassed to talk about God to certain people.

St. Paul reminds us to constantly be in the spirit of thanksgiving for our entire lives no matter what the present situation.  Praise and thanks is the key to joy.  Do our actions match our words?  Are we living a life of peace and justice, being fair to all?  Do we give others an invitation to meet God by who we are, not just by what we say?  It is so important to be aware that the Divine is in every person, not just the persons we feel comfortable with.  As St. Francis of Assisi said, “Go preach the gospel and if necessary use words”.

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on August 30, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 24:42-51

Jesus said to his disciples: “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.

“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Our readings from the gospel of Matthew are coming to a close. They continue for a couple of more days, and then on Monday, we move on to read and reflect on the gospel of Luke. But today, Friday, and Saturday, we have certain selected Matthean passages from Jesus’ sermon about the last things.

The reading today overtly suggests that the Lord is coming at a time we cannot know; the subtext is that the wise policy is to live our lives in anticipation of the day and hour of the Lord’s return, a time that is hidden from us. There are different ways to learn from this passage. Of course, we can understand this reading in the context of the Lord’s second coming at the end of time, but isn’t one of the lessons of Christian life that the Lord is ever at hand. Living our lives in anticipation of Jesus’ return is not just living for the end. It is also living for the moment, for we know from our experience that the Lord is in our midst at every instant. Lives lived in gentleness, kindness, and mercy are lives lived not to encounter the Lord at some remote hour but to open ourselves to find him right here, right now.

Eucharist 3Saint of the day: Margaret Ward was born in Congleton, Cheshire, England. Nothing is known of her early life. Margaret worked a lady’s companion to the Whittle family in London. She and her servant, Blessed John Roche, were arrested for helping Father Richard Watson escape from Bridewell Prison by smuggling him a rope and then helping him once he was outside. Imprisoned, flogged, and tortured, she was offered freedom if she would surrender Father Watson and convert to the Church of England; she declined. She was hanged, drawn, and quartered on August 30, 1588 at Tyburn, London, England.

Spiritual reading: Now when we have received our Lord (in the Eucharist) and have him in our body, let us not then let him alone and get us forth about other things . . . but let all our business be about him. Let us by devout prayer talk to him, by devout meditation talk with him. (Saint Thomas More)

Wednesday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time (year II)

Posted in christian, Christianity, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by revmtheogene on August 29, 2012

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18 / Psalm 128: 1-2, 4-6 / Matthew 23: 27-32

Putting God first is not a sacrifice.  Why do we let negativity influence us? Thinking putting God first in our lives means we will not be free?  Why do we think by putting god first it means following a bunch of rules that bind us? Jesus addresses that negativity when he reprimands the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy.  They put so many burdens on the innocent people making them think they would not be close to God unless they obeyed those false rules they created (not God).  We need to listen to that inner voice telling us by putting God first we will be free to live a life of joy, peace, hope, and love.  Yes, there are guidelines, but we follow them because we are so in love with God we enjoy whatever the guidelines are. God Bless!

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on August 29, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Mark 6:17-29

Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias’ own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Reflection on the gospel reading: About John, of course, Jesus said that no greater man had been born of woman. And in John, whose passion we recall today, we see the typology of the life of the Lord, a Lord whose sandals’ thongs John said he was not fit to loosen. As an angel does with Jesus’ birth, an angel announces John’s birth. While the Lord is born miraculously to a virgin, John is born miraculously to an older woman. The pattern of Jesus’ ministry to announce the inbreaking of the kingdom of God mirrors the pattern of John’s ministry to announce repentance to Israel. And John’s unjust murder, the subject of today’s reading and feast, prefigures our Lord’s unjust murder. Of course, there are many elements in our lives that cannot fit the outlines of the narratives of either Jesus or John, but we can choose to live as they lived, close to the call we, like they, receive from the Father, lives lived out empowered by the grace of the Holy Spirit of God.

Saint of the day: Shortly after he had baptized Jesus, John the Baptist began to denounce Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee. Herod had divorced his own wife and taken Herodias, the wife of his half- brother Philip and also his own niece. John the Baptist declared, “It is not lawful for you to have her,” so Herod threw him into prison.

Not only did Herod fear John and his disciples, he also knew him to be a righteous man, so he did not kill him. Herodias determined to bring about John’s death. From prison John followed Jesus’ ministry, and sent messengers to question him (Luke 7:19-29). One day Herod gave a fine banquet to celebrate his birthday. His entire court was present as well as other powerful and influential Palestinians. Herodias’s daughter Salome so pleased Herod when she danced to entertain the company that he promised her whatever she would ask–even half of his kingdom. Salome asked her mother for counsel and was told to request the head of the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-12).

Because of his pride Herod, though deeply sorry, could not decline the request; thus, as Saint Augustine says, “an oath rashly taken was criminally kept.” He sent a soldier of the guard to behead John in prison. Thus, the “voice crying in the wilderness” was silenced. The head was placed on a platter and taken to Salome, who gave it to her mother.

When John’s disciples heard what had happened, they took away his body and laid it in a tomb, probably at Sebaste in Samaria, where he was venerated in the 4th century. His tomb was desecrated by Julian the Apostate. John’s relics are claimed by many places, but it is unlikely that they are authentic. His cultus is ancient in both the East and West, because intercession to Saint John was believed to the coming of Christ in the soul, just as it was in history. There are a vast number of medieval churches in England dedicated to Saint John. He is the patron of the Knights Hospitallers, whose principal work was to guard the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem and protect pilgrims

Spiritual reading: He must increase, but I must decrease. (John the Baptist)

Tuesday of the Twenty-First Week of the Year (Year II)

Posted in Uncategorized by revmtheogene on August 29, 2012

Read 2 Thessalonians 2: 1-3, 14-16 / Psalm 96: 10-13 / Matthew 23: 23-26 (Inclusive Lectionary Texts)

We have to be careful not to say, do, write or preach to others a message that causes guilt.  We also need to be mindful of our own insecurities that prevent us from being who we truly are.  We sometimes say what we think others want to hear or do what we think others want us to do.  This prevents us from doing God’s will.  We may think we are following God by being or doing what others want us to be or do.  In reality we are doing a great deal of harm to ourselves and those to whom we have in our care. All God asks of us is to be who we are created to be, the parent, the child, the co-worker, the friend, and to act out of who we are, and not any complicated being we think we should be. Peace

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on August 28, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 23:23-26

Jesus said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. But these you should have done, without neglecting the others. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Religion that is spiritual has been the underlying theme of the gospel readings for several days. Nowadays, we hear a lot about people who do not consider themselves to be religious but still think of themselves as being spiritual: they do not subscribe to any ritualism or organized religious discipline but they still strive after a sense of connectedness with the world of spirit, whether those connections are with invisible reality or other people. In general, spiritual–but not religious–people are repelled at what they see as straining at a gnat and swallowing the camel: that is, they are put off by the devout who are preoccupied with petty ritualistic and legalistic rigors, but fail at introspection, compassion, and faithfulness.

I don’t think Jesus would be insensitive to the plight of spiritual but not religious people. Jesus doesn’t hold back on his expression of disgust at scrupulous religion which is only skin deep. But Jesus in this gospel passage does not counsel abandonment of the exterior practices. I think it’s because Jesus understood that we are what we do. A spirituality which is disembodied, that is, a spirituality which does not include outward physical actions, is hard to maintain. There is no unmediated experience of the divine, and as embodied beings we need to cultivate an embodied spirituality. It is worth noting that Jesus does not condemn a heartfelt attention to the rigors of religious practice. But what he does ask of us is that whatever our external practices, we pay the greatest heed to the demands of justice, love, and integrity. Religious activities without interiority are lifeless, but spiritual intentions not realized in physical signs are phantasms.

Saint of the day: Augustine, one of the most influential thinkers in the entire history of the Church, was born at Tagaste, North Africa, on November 13, 354. His father, Patricius, a city official was not a Christian, though his mother, Monica, was a woman of strong Christian faith. (She eventually led her husband to be baptized, and he died in about 371.)

Though Augustine received a Christian upbringing, he led a wild life as a youth and young man. Augustine gives an account of his spiritual development in the first nine Books of the Confessions, a work that has engrossed readers for 1,600 years and are as fresh and immediate today as when they were written.

As a nineteen-year old student at Carthage, he espoused the Manichaean heresy, a form of Gnosticism founded in Persia in the late third century, which claimed to be a religion of reason as contrasted with Christianity, a religion of faith. Manichaeism aimed to synthesize all known religions. Its basic dualistic tenet espoused two equal and opposed Principles (“gods”) in the universe: Good (Light/Spirit) and Evil (Darkness/Matter).

After nearly ten years as a Manichaean, Augustine, who taught in Milan, visited Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, became a regular attendant at his preaching, and through his influence became convinced that Catholic teachings are true, and that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. Still, he found himself conflicted between his desire for spiritual truth and physical release.

An interview with Simplicianus, spiritual father of St. Ambrose, who told Augustine the story of the conversion of the celebrated neo-Platonic rhetorician, Victorinus, and later, a chance visit by a Christian, Ponticianus, who told him of other conversions, led Augustine to a crisis:

I was greatly disturbed in spirit, angry at myself with a turbulent indignation because I had not entered thy will and covenant, O my God, while all my bones cried out to me to enter, extolling it to the skies. The way therein is not by ships or chariots or feet–indeed it was not as far as I had come from the house to the place where we were seated. For to go along that road and indeed to reach the goal is nothing else but the will to go. But it must be a strong and single will, not staggering and swaying about this way and that–a changeable, twisting, fluctuating will, wrestling with itself while one part falls as another rises. (Confessions, Book VIII.8.19)

I was … weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl I know not which–coming from the neighboring house, chanting over and over again, “Pick it up, read it; pick it up, read it.”[260] Immediately I ceased weeping and began most earnestly to think whether it was usual for children in some kind of game to sing such a song, but I could not remember ever having heard the like. So, damming the torrent of my tears, I got to my feet, for I could not but think that this was a divine command to open the Bible and read the first passage I should light upon. …

So I quickly returned to the bench where Alypius was sitting, for there I had put down the apostle’s book [Paul’s letter to the Romans] when I had left there. I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell: “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.”[Romans 13:13] I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away. (Confessions, Book IX.29)

Augustine was thirty-three when he was moved to act on his convictions in that garden at Milan in September 386. A few weeks later, during the autumn “vintage” holiday, Augustine, resigned his professorship at Milan, resolving to devote himself to the pursuit of true philosophy, now inseparable from Christianity. After a vacation at Cassisiacum, Augustine returned to Milan with Monica, Adeodatus (his son) , and his friends, where the new converts were baptized. Soon after, while preparing to return to North Africa with her sons and grandson, Monica died at Ostia, near Rome. (A moving account of her final days is found in Confessions Book IX, 8-12)

Augustine returned to Africa in August 388, and, with the objective of living a life of poverty and prayer, he sold his property and gave the proceeds to the poor. Although he did not think of becoming a priest, during a visit to Hippo, as he was praying in the church, people suddenly gathered around him and persuaded the bishop of Hippo, Valerius, to ordain Augustine. He was ordained in 391, and in Tagaste, established a monastery, and preached against Manichaeism with great success. When he was forty-two, he became coadjutor bishop of Hippo, where he was bishop for 34 years.

During his years as bishop, Augustine combated the Manichaean heresy, strongly affirming free will and expounding on the problem of evil; he struggled against the Donatist heresy that attacked the divine institution and hierarchical nature of the Church. In later years, he would confront the Pelagian heresy that denied the doctrine of original sin and the effects of grace; and the heresy of Arianism, which denied that the Son is of the same substance as the Father.

Augustine died August 28, 430 at the age of seventy-five. His perennial contribution to and influence on Catholic doctrine and thought and on Christian belief and piety is incalculable, and his many theological and philosophical works, especially the Confessions and the City of God have continued to captivate and inspire mankind for more than the better part of two millenniums.

Spiritual reading: Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile. (Mother Teresa)

Monday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time (Year II)

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by revmtheogene on August 27, 2012

Read-  2 Thessalonians 1: 1-5, 11-12 / Psalm 96: 1-5 / Matthew 23: 13-22  (Inclusive Lectionary Texts)

Do we feel called that we all share in the reign of God? Do we know that we all have a shared responsibility to build up the kingdom? Do we give up when the going gets rough?

Friends, I believe that our God has called us out of church to be church, not only to ourselves but to each other. As Paul praises the community for their love for God, one another and how that love continues to grow in the daily struggles of life. Our physical places of worship are fine, but do we put all that we have and are into the buildings that we  worship in? Do we invest the time needed into ourselves and each other? Do we grow in our love for God and each other? What do we end up making as gods in our life?

We know living and being in communities of whatever sort==family, work, friends, and so on–leads us to be challenged at times to see beyond our own world to see the bigger picture that surrounds us. When people react in certain ways, do we say, what is that person going through at this time? More importantly, that should cause me to reflect within and see why did it affect me in that way? Whatever I am  going through may be clouding the others pain and I focus on me.  It is not always about me!

We need to be careful and mindful both about ourselves and of others. We need not take things so seriously and learn to  live in the moment. Building up ourselves and others to be good human persons loving and giving for the reign of God.

We all have our own practices and rituals. Practices that even I myself have grown up with and have led me to where I am now. I do not regret the experiences: they have helped make me who I am today. One is not better or worse than the other. Conservative verses liberal practices, institutional rules or open, laid-back rules. Does it really matter in the end? To some it does, and that is why we have so many choices in how we worship. For me I am learning to put aside those rituals that block me from being concerned about the individual that I encounter. I find great joy in knowing more about the person who has just embraced me in that moment. I can learn so much from that person. We can see the God of all creation in each encounter. I hope that person and I can see the divine in each other. For me, I hope that I focus on what is truly important and know the things that I may put too much attention on and be careful not to make it a god.

As a brief exercise, as we have all done before, make a short list of the important things in your life. Look carefully at what ranks ahead of others. Do we put God in the center placing our family, work, friends, relationships: ourselves on the altar of God’s Love?

God bless!

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on August 27, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 23:13-22

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves.

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’ Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’ You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it; one who swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it; one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: It is easy, I think, to read the passage that the Church offers us today and see a condemnation of the Scribes and Pharisees, but it is not these groups whom the Lord condemns but an attitude and a way of thinking. Our Lord’s detestation of falseness and his abhorrence of hypocrisy are apparent in this text. Jesus condemns a way of thinking that corrupts the true spirit of religion, a way of thinking that makes religion a ridiculously hard riddle which is impossible to live and inhumane to enforce. For Jesus, true religion is a matter of the heart flowing out through our lives and actions into the world; it is a continuous outpouring where our insides and outsides match each other. It is a matter of love at the root of our being for the needy and an absolute availability in the world for the emptiness of others.

Saint of the day: In 331 or 332 Monica was born at Tagaste, in what is modern day Algeria, into a dedicated Christian family of good social standing. As a young woman, she married Patritius, a non-Christian, who was a modest landowner and a city counselor in Tagaste. Monica sought to live her ideal of a Christian wife and mother with courage of soul, warmth of faith, strength of hope, keenness of intellect, st-monicaconstancy of prayer and meditation on the Holy Scripture, together with a sensible approach to the ups and downs of family life. She succeeded in bringing about the conversion to Christ of both her husband and Augustine, “the son of so many tears,” at whose baptism she was present with a heart brimful of joy. On her way back to Africa with Augustine and his friends, she died at Ostia on the Tiber outside Rome some time in the month of October 385. She was 55-years-old. It was about two weeks before her death that mother and son experienced the rapture of the “ecstasy of Ostia,” in which “for one brief moment, with a sweep of their hearts, they reached up to Wisdom, the Maker of all things, and left with him the first fruits of their spirits.” In the 12th century, her liturgical celebration was fixed for May 4, kept by the Augustinians until 1998. The Universal Church, however, keeps her feast on August 27, the day before her son’s feast day. St. Monica’s remains are venerated in the church of St. Augustine, Rome.

Spiritual reading: Then I head the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am,” I said, “Send me!” (Isaiah the Prophet)

Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle B)

Posted in Uncategorized by revmtheogene on August 26, 2012

Read Joshua 24: 1-2, 15-18 / Psalm 34 / Ephesians 5: 21-32 / John 6: 60-69 from the Inclusive Lectionary

Joshua brought all the people together and asked them if they still wanted to follow Yahweh. He gave them the choice. That was pretty risky. Sometimes we want to abandon God and follow our own idea of god, e.g., money, family, material belongings, job security: the list could go on forever of things we put before God. I know for myself that sometimes God is not #1 on my list: I think I can control how things should go. Who is our God?

It flows right into how Paul uses a committed relationship as an example of how we should be in relationship with God. He tells us to become one with the partner putting them first. This is not an easy request. Many couples who have stayed together for fifty years or more can testify to that but also testify how much their love for one another has brought them closer to God.

Jesus takes it even further than in the previous reading when he tells us to eat his body and drink his blood. Many left him because of this statement. They took it literally, Jesus was using that analogy to show us how we can become one in heart mind and spirit with God by seeing God within ourselves and others and all we do. Jesus gives us a hint saying God is always drawing us, but never forcing us. We are the ones who choose to put God first……….Do we practice making that choice everyday? God bless!

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on August 26, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

John 6:60-69

Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Throughout the last few weeks, Jesus has spoken about feeding on his body and drinking his blood. Through this uncompromising metaphor, he has called us to radically commit ourselves to his values, vision, and way of life. We who believe in the Eucharist cannot fail to see intimations of the Eucharist in this passage and how it summons us to recognize the Eucharist’s influences on our acceptance of Christ’s call. The Eucharist is at once the possibility of our commitment and its seal. But what I would like to address is the failure to commit, which is the theme of a part of today’s gospel passage.

All of us fail more or less frequently to live as Jesus has called us to live. As today’s gospel account suggests, some of us simply abandon our companionship with Jesus and go our own way no longer to walk with the Lord. Since this is possible for all of us, it is worth some thought about how this choice can occur.

We all know that human beings are capable of things that are so awful that these acts make a radical statement about who we are and how we are in relationship with God. I think such clear cut choices are relatively rare. But the Church long has defined another, less serious kind of sin (what traditionally was called, “venial sin.”) The Church has suggested that such sins do not result in a complete separation from God. We all know that venial sin is very common: it’s the stuff of our day-to-day transactions with one another.

Let me make a case why we ought not to be cavalier about such little sins. Imagine, if you will, that two best friends live next door to each other. They love each others’ company and spend many happy hours with one another from day-to-day. They can’t imagine their lives without the other.

One of the friends receives a wonderful job offer in another city, and the friend moves away. For a while, the two friends are on the phone with each other every day. Nothing has changed except that they don’t live next door to one another. Then one day, one of the friends comes home, weary at the end of a day of work: there’s a meal to prepare, laundry to be done, kids to be put in bed. The friend thinks of calling, but says, “To heck with it: I am too tired tonight; I’ll call tomorrow.” There’s nothing fatal in the decision: it’s a small action with little consequence in the great scheme of things.

The relationship continues, but with time, the calls become less frequent. For a while, they are once a week. Then they are once a month. There’s no big decision: no fundamental choice. But the relationship is slowing down as the choices about what is immediate and important less and less include the relationship. Finally, the relationship slips to a Christmas card once a year in December. Then comes a time when the one friend is on a trip elsewhere and the flight lays over in the city of the other friend. The friend who is traveling thinks about making a call but then decides, “Who cares. It isn’t worth the trouble.” Their friendship has ebbed away from hundreds of small decisions. It’s death by a thousand cuts. Not a single one of the cuts of itself is fatal, but their cumulative effect is to destroy the relationship.

It’s important to think about how important things die. It usually happens little bit by little bit. When the disciples walked away from Jesus, as today’s gospel records, it seems unlikely to me that it was a sudden decision that came over them in a wave. It probably was the accumulation of numerous decisions made over a long period of time.

This is why we are called to make a radical commitment: we really do need to be all in, and being all in is a gift of the Father: It is why we should pray that we can persevere until the end. It is too easy to let a thousand things come up during the course of a day and ease us away from the kind of commitment that Jesus asks of us, the kind of commitment that will allow us to remain his till the end.

Spiritual reading: Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating. (Simone Weil)

Saturday of the Twentieth Week of the Year (Year II)

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by revmtheogene on August 25, 2012

Read Ezekiel 43:1-7 / Psalm 85: 8-13 / Matthew 23: 1-12

We are reminded in the history of Christianity that the center of world Christianity was supposedly in the east. The focal point being Jerusalem and the spread of Christianity, at least among the mainstream traditions, Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Lutheranism, etc., caused communities to have their altars / tables facing towards the east. This was a reminder to the communities that Jesus was to come from the east. No need to look east but to look inside of me, inside of you where God has always been and will remain.

In the gospel Jesus talks about the scribes and pharisees imposing rules but tells us not to follow their example. How true that is today of our church leaders laying heavy burdens on their people but do not open their hearts to the true needs of their communities causing great suffering and guilt upon their flock. The most important thing to keep in mind is that we are called to serve, not to be served. Humility is the biggest thing Jesus talked about and lived. We are all called to love to serve and remember that each and every person we encounter is the Face of God.

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on August 25, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: One of the underlying themes in today’s gospel passage is authenticity. There are, I think, a few themes which emerge from the gospels with bright clarity, like the inbreaking of the kingdom of God into human history, the Lord’s sensitivity to the plight of poor people, and the need to live a compassionate life. One of Jesus’ preoccupations in his ministry was the imperative to avoid falseness. The passage from today’s gospel calls us to live authentic lives. If something inside of us is real, it will probably be universal, something which connects us to other human beings and builds up the kingdom of God in our midst. Jesus invites us to risk placing real emotion at the center of our lives–how we pray, how we work, how we play, how we relate: live our lives straight into the emotional center of things. Make ourselves vulnerable. Take the chance that someone may not like us. Tell the truth as we understand it. If you’re a Christian, I think Jesus tells you that you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act: truth is always subversive.

Saint of the day: At his coronation as king of France, Louis IX bound himself by oath to behave as God’s anointed, as the father of his people and feudal lord of the King of Peace. Other kings had done the same, of course. Louis was different in that he actually interpreted his kingly duties in the light of faith. After the violence of two previous reigns, he brought peace and justice.

Born in 1226, he was crowned king at 12, at his father’s death. His mother, Blanche of Castile, ruled during his minority. When he was 19, he was married to Marguerite of Provence, who was 12 at the time of the wedding. It was a loving marriage, though not without challenge. They had 11 children.

Louis “took the cross” for a Crusade when he was 30. His army seized Damietta on the Nile but not long after, weakened by dysentery and without support, they were surrounded and captured. Louis obtained the release of the army by giving up the city of Damietta in addition to paying a ransom. He stayed in Syria four years.

He deserves credit for extending justice in civil administration. He drew up regulations for his officials which became the first of a series of reform laws. He replaced trial by battle with a form of examination of witnesses and encouraged the beginning of using written records in court.

Louis was always respectful of the papacy, but defended royal interests against the popes and refused to acknowledge Innocent IV’s sentence against Emperor Frederick II.

Louis was devoted to his people, founding hospitals, visiting the sick and, like his patron St. Francis, caring even for people with leprosy. (He is one of the patrons of the Secular Franciscan Order.) Louis united France—lords and townsfolk, peasants and priests and knights—by the force of his personality and holiness. For many years the nation was at peace.

Every day Louis had 13 special guests from among the poor to eat with him, and a large number of poor were served meals near his palace. During Advent and Lent, all who presented themselves were given a meal, and Louis often served them in person. He kept lists of needy people, whom he regularly relieved, in every province of his dominion.

Disturbed by new Muslim advances in Syria, he led another crusade in 1267, at the age of 41. His crusade was diverted to Tunis for his brother’s sake. The army was decimated by disease within a month, and Louis himself died on foreign soil at the age of 44. He was canonized 27 years later.

Spiritual reading: To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength. (Criss Jami)

Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time (Year II)

Posted in Uncategorized by revmtheogene on August 24, 2012

Read Ezekiel 37: 1-14, Psalm 107: 2-9, Matt 22:34-40

Ezekiel’s dry bones story speaks to me about how at times I walk around like a robot from task to task without paying attention to the moment. I am in a sense without spirit, just performing functions without seeing the beauty of God’s spirit in it all. Am I the one who has to put the spirit into myself? Not at all but I am the one who has to allow God to infuse me with the spirit of joy, the spirit of giving, forgiving, caring and mostly loving what I do and who I am with at the moment. God cannot make me do this unless I am open to this simple acknowledgment of letting God walk with me every day through no matter what it is I do.

This is all confirmed by the gospel, love god with all your heart mind and soul and your neighbor as yourself. It is so simple if we just follow this command. Nothing complicated it is all up to us, the decision is our….what do we choose?

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on August 24, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

John 1:45-51

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: We celebrate the feast of Batholomew, Apostle. The notion that Batholomew and Nathaniel are the same apostle is a relatively late development in Christianity, traced to the ninth century. Whether or not Batholomew and Nathaniel were the same person, the gospel passage we read today does permit some observations about Jesus and the reaction of people to him.

Over and over again throughout the gospels, we see that Jesus excited interest in people. In an age without telephone, television, radio, or Internet, news had to travel by word of mouth, and the scene that the gospel presents to us today well must have been how news about Jesus traveled in the towns and villages where Jesus preached.

Philip tells Nathaniel that Jesus is the son of Joseph of Nazareth and wonders whether Jesus might be the one foretold in the Law and the Prophets. Nathaniel, without having met Jesus, expresses a bias against Jesus because of the place where Jesus grew up. We know such reactions to people are common even in our time: it requires no explanation to understand Nathaniel’s line of reasoning.

But even so, when Nathaniel encounters Jesus, he is impressed. Jesus says a few words that, while mysterious to us, were quite compelling to Nathaniel. In an instant, Nathaniel is won over.

Jesus had a short ministry. But in a brief period of time, he stirred sufficient conviction in a small group of followers that they dedicated the rest of their lives to talking about what they had heard, what they had seen with their eyes, what they looked upon and touched with their hands concerning the Word of life. Who Jesus was must have been quite compelling to people who were disposed to hear his message and believe in his signs, and doubtless, given the interest he stirred, a chance encounter with him frequently was all the evidence someone needed to rearrange their entire lives. Such was the power of the man then even as now. We too can pray to ever more deeply hear, see, and touch the mystery given to us, that it enliven in us gifts of faith, hope, and love.

Saint of the day: The name “Bartholomew” appears in the New Testament only on lists of the names of the twelve apostles. This list normally is given as six pairs, and the third pair in each of the synoptic gospels is “Philip and Bartholomew.” John gives no list of the Twelve, but refers to more of them individually than the Synoptics do. He does not name Bartholomew, but early in his account (John 1:43-50) he tells of the call to discipleship of a Nathaniel who is often supposed to be the same person. The reasoning is as follows: John’s Nathanael is introduced as one of the earliest followers of Jesus, and in terms which suggest that he became one of the Twelve. He is clearly not the same as Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Thomas, Judas Iscariot, Judas (not Iscariot, also called Lebbaeus or Thaddeus), all of whom John names separately. He is not Matthew, whose call is described differently (M 9:9). This leaves Bartholomew, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes. Of these, Bartholomew is the leading candidate for two reasons:

(1) “Bar-tholomew” is a patronymic, meaning “son of Tolmai (or Talmai).” It is therefore likely that he had another name. “Nathanael son of Tolmai” seems more likely than “Nathanael also called James (or Simon).”

(2) Nathanael is introduced in John’s narrative as a friend of Philip. Since Bartholomew is paired with Philip on three of our four lists of Apostles, it seems likely that they were associated.

We have no certain information about Bartholomew’s later life. Some writers, including the historian Eusebius of Caesarea, say that he preached in India. The majority tradition, with varying details, is that Bartholomew preached in Armenia, and was finally skinned alive and beheaded to Albanus or Albanopolis (now Derbent) on the Caspian Sea. His emblem in art is a flaying knife. The flayed Bartholomew can be seen in Michelangelo’s Sistine painting of the Last Judgment. He is holding his skin. The face on the skin is generally considered to be a self-portrait of Michelangelo.

Spiritual reading: One thing is certain, whoever honestly wants to love God already loves him. (The Need and Blessing of Prayer by Karl Rahner, S.J.)