Happy Thanksgiving to each and all

Posted in Uncategorized by Mike on November 28, 2013

Sisters and brothers!

For you who are in the United States, I wish each of you a happy Thanksgiving, and for you who are around the globe, I give thanks for your faith and hope (and your visits to this website.) I started writing, “Carry the gospel with you,” every day about five years ago. I feel now, as I did five years ago, called to do this. I apologize I haven’t posted in the last few weeks. I’ve been traveling in California and Arizona since November 11 visiting family and completing some work. When I left D.C., I didn’t intend to take a break from, “Carry the gospel with you,” but it just kind of happened. I think I needed a break to refresh a bit. I get home to Washington on December 3, but I will start publishing again, “Carry the gospel with you,” on the first day of the new liturgical year, the first Sunday in Advent, December 1.

Grace and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ!


Homily December 1, 2013 First Sunday of Advent

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on November 26, 2013

As we begin December, the new liturgical year begins and the gospels cycle to the readings of year A, with the gospels switching from Luke to Matthew. At the same time the season of Advent begins as we rapidly approach Christmas. Typically you would think that the beginning of a new year would be a big celebration similar to what we do January first. However, the church calendar singles out the theme of Christ’s second coming and the end of the world. Matthew tells us to be watchful and be prepared as like a thief in the night, we have no idea when Christ will come. The expectation of Christ’s return was expected soon by the early Christians, but as Matthew wrote the wars and other signs of the end such as storms stormand earthquakes even including the destruction of the temple had happened and still Christ had not come. Christ’s contemporaries were dieing Certainly death was the end and Christ was there to meet them with his Father. Certainly the message to be prepared and ready always was one that is pertinent even to today. All of us face God’s judgment, but the how and when and the mysteries of time and space and the Spiritual is really beyond our comprehension now save for the eyes of faith. Losing a loved one or even facing death itself is terrifying to some and welcome to others depending on their faith and their disposition to God. michaelangeloHopefully, our earthly life is only a mirror or preparation for a future life. How we are now certainly is going to be what we will be. If we ignore God’s call now, What can we expect for the future. But then, remember that all is not lost. God’s love is never-ending and faithful and is always ready to embrace us. Until the moment we have no more earthly life we can surrender to that love, we can seek forgiveness and still be with Him. The thing is it must be sincere and timely. Procrastination can be dangerous as we could be too late. If we don’t know the day or the hour, why do we wait. When we go to an important event, we go in plenty of time. We prepare and we wait so as to share in all the event’s happenings. Yet, what is more important than our eternal future? What have we done to prepare? If we are living our lives right, then we are prepared and there should be no fear. Only you and your God know your readiness. Only you can judge yourself and only God knows you as well as you know yourself and can judge you also. So today we are reminded to look at ourself and if there is anything we need to change, now is the time and opportunity to do so.

Homily for the 1st Sunday of Advent, Year A 2013-14

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, ethics, inspirational, politics, religion by Fr. Ron Stephens on November 24, 2013

Homily for the 1st Sunday of Advent, Year A  2013-14

 Please consider buying Bishop Ron’s collection of Year A homilies: Teaching the Church Year, available on

Happy Church New Year! Many of my homilies this year are going to be about a theme that I think is very important and that is certainly part of Matthew’s Gospel, which is the prominent Gospel that we will be reading this year. That theme is the the mandate that we have been given to spread our faith throughout the world. This “evangelizing” is quite different than proselytizing, however. Most Catholics are turned off and even horrified by the attempts of some Christians to attempt to convert. Throughout the year we will come to learn the difference.

As we do each year, however, we begin the year with Advent. In Latin the word “adventus” signifies a coming, much similar to the “coming attractions” that we get when we go see a movie. We don’t see the whole new movie, but we get a taste of what it is to be about in order to prepare ourselves for it, to attract us to it. So it is with the season of Advent. We begin to prepare for an event which, of course, has already happened, but which happens again each year in celebration, so that the Incarnation can be constantly made new and kept in our hearts.

Secondly, we are asked to prepare for that coming attraction. The readings are carefully selected to do just that – they aren’t the whole readings, but snatches of themes and sentiments and truths that help us get ready.  If we do our job, if we pay attention, actively get ready, spiritually turn ourselves around, we can best make use of the Advent experience and make Christmas a really new beginning and a fresh start. The hustle and bustle of the season can become more peaceful, and we will tend to think of others more than ourselves.

So, how do we begin? We begin by going up to the house of the Lord. This theme, expressed both in Isaiah and the Psalm set up our journey over the next four weeks. Like a commercial for a new movie, the themes of Advent and Christmas are flashed before us – the establishment of the Lord’s house, the coming of all the nations, the word of the Lord being given to us, peace instead of war, and mostly the image of “light” coming into the world. Both the Psalm and the first reading are filled with these quick images.

But it is in the second reading that the dominant theme of light shines through clearly. St. Paul tells us in Romans that we need to wake from our sleep, that morning light is arriving, and we too need to cast off the night and put on the clothing of light, the armor of light. This is the preparation that we need to make according to Paul. This new clothing is Jesus Christ himself, and so we need to prepare to wear these clothes by living as honorably as we can – and we remember how important honor was to the Hebrew! – we prepare by subduing the things in our life that get in the way of light – constant partying, drunkenness, inordinate sexual pleasures, promiscuity, fighting and jealousy.  These things must be purged in order to dress in the clothing of light – the clothing which is Jesus Christ. And it is our job of preparation to get our bodies ready for Jesus’ birth once again.

Even though this is the first of the Church Year, our first reading from Matthew’s Gospel is not from the beginning but is the 24th chapter. The point it is referencing is not the Nativity for which we prepare in Advent, but the second Coming of Christ, and there are similarities, of course, in both. Coming the first time, Jesus still had to do the work and die for us. He has already done that, and we have already been saved. His second Coming also needs preparation, and we can learn from our preparation in Advent, that the same things are required of us throughout life in awaiting Jesus’ coming again.

We recall that the early Christians thought that the coming was going to be very soon. When this Gospel was written, many felt that it could be any day – and they were right – it could be any day, and it still could be.

Similar to Paul’ words – Jesus says that we must stay awake to the possibilities of that Coming. We must keep our bodies prepared to meet Christ, to put on Christ. Nobody knows when this is going to happen. Just as we could die any time and meet our Maker before Christ’s Second coming, we need to be prepared for both eventualities.

So it seems rather clear that Advent is a time when we examine our lives, when we sort out our weaknesses and our sins, and we attempt to cast those aside, ask for forgiveness and begin again. We want to have our bodies ready to take on Jesus at Christmas. We are to “prepare the way of the Lord” as we so often hear in Isaiah and John the Baptist’s words.

Today, also, we have the first ‘evangelizing’ reference when Isaiah says “all the nations shall stream” to the “mountain of the Lord’s house.” The message to go out to all the world and spread the Good News that Christ came for all, is one of the continuing messages of the Gospels. I would like you to begin to think about how your life might be a preview or coming attraction for another person to see. When someone observes your life, sees you in action and in contemplation, do they see you wearing Christ. This is the first step in evangelization – living our faith so that all nations can recognize it.  More about that in the weeks to come!

I would also like to suggest that an Advent calendar is a great way to keep focused on the time of Advent and to look forward to Christmas. It is not just for kids, but can be useful for all of us, to daily bring our attention to the fact that we must prepare ourselves and cast off sins and weaknesses. We must try to find something that will help us to keep this in mind. If an Advent calendar doesn’t work – how about we try a simple reading each day.  Our parish website can direct us to the National Church CACINA website which has a daily prayer to keep us focused, for example. Then there are Advent programs that we can purchase online – daily meditations, that can help us focus.

Whatever we decide, let us make a New Year’s resolution today to try to find something to center our attention on how we can prepare for the coming of Christ. We’ve just heard the coming attraction for Christmas in our fours readings – now we have to decide whether and how we will get ourselves ready for it.

And this is the Good News that always helps us to see the light of any season!

Bishop Ron Stephens

Auxiliary Bishop of Holy Trinity diocese of the Catholic Apostolic Church in North America

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA.


Posted in Uncategorized by Mike on November 22, 2013

I’ve been traveling, and getting the daily reflections done has been a problem. As soon as I can, I will be back with “Carry the gospel with you.” Peace.

Homily November 24, 2013 Solemnity of Christ the King

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on November 19, 2013

The Solemnity or Feast of Christ the King is a rather recent addition to the liturgical calendar of the Christian churches. It was first celebrated in 1925 when Pius XI established it. At that time, Pius was a man without a country, as the Vatican or Papal States had ceased to exist in 1870 and no resolution had been made regarding the Pope’s status. concordatSo at that time, the pope had no earthly governmental power and apparently this feast was part of several years of Pius working and establishing a treaty with Mussolini making Vatican City a free and independent nation in 1929. The feast was originally celebrated the last Sunday of October, but was moved to the last Sunday of the Liturgical year in 1969 at which time it began to be celebrated by other Christian Churches when their calendars and readings began to be shared. I give this background because it is interesting that Christ never had a kingdom on earth and even told Pilate his kingdom is not of this world. He certainly never had the trappings of royalty, and kingship for him meant service to others. Even with all the finery that he provided David the King of Israel, he expected David to be a shepherd of his people. In America, we have little concern for what a king is as it is foreign to what we know. Long ago we put aside the monarchy and formed a new way of governing. But what matters is that whatever form of government there is the keystone must be service of the people and their common good.

Christ’s Kingship resembles nothing we see in any nation today. His rule is to meet each of us where we are. His work is to call and lead us to him and his Father. His message is the same as when he walked the earth. We are all called to repent and believe and to love, His power, his glory was the cross and the life he gave on it for all of us. As a man he was Szoke_Peter_Jakab-Christ_the_Kingscorned, he was abused because he believed and followed God his Father unconcerned about what his contemporaries thought. He refused high honors and always was concerned for those who were with him and listening to him. In today’s gospel we have heard the scorn and derision launched at him as he died on the cross. Yet even then, he could forgive and welcome another companion to the next life. The placard on his cross said “King Of The Jews”, but this was only to mock him more. Compassion and forgiveness were only words to those who only looked out for themselves. It was so much easier for the rulers and priest to live on in their own comfort ignoring the commands of God to seek their own advantage.

Finally, if you look at Romans 13, the state is seen as a minister or functionary of God, calling for compliance. In the book of Revelations, chapter 13, The state is the beast that came from the abyss. With such an interesting disparity, we are reminded that life is a journey and one companion stands out to show us the way. His way is not an easy way but it is a loving, giving way. It is one of giving to others, of serving and sharing. It is a way of accepting what God gives and being all that we can be. It is the way of his kingship and of sharing in it.

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on November 17, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 21:5-19

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here–the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be parousiaterrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.

“Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The gospel passage that we read today was written at a particular moment in history when a lot was going wrong in the world and especially for the Christian community. Jesus spoke during his ministry about troubles that would come down the road, and Luke believed that the things that Jesus foretold had already come to pass. In recording this passage, Luke is essentially telling us, “See, you can trust Jesus’ word. He foresaw our present impasse, and the things that Jesus said which haven’t yet come true are therefore also reliable.” Every age has troubles. Human suffering from natural and human-made causes is not the unique property of any given time. A sense that the end of the world and Jesus’ return must be imminent has been the experience of Christians across the two millenniums since the Lord’s lifetime among us as a human. But whatever the eschatological dimensions of this passage may suggest about Luke’s day, our own, and the final one, there is a consistent lesson that Christians may draw from this gospel reading, and that is that Jesus’ word is entirely trustworthy, and we do well to rely
on him. imagesWe should not fear the future. History must run its course, and we need to live the gospel of love as we wait upon our Lord.

Spiritual reading: Divine action is always new and fresh, it never retraces its steps, but always finds new routes. When we are led by this action, we have no idea where we are going, for the paths we tread cannot be discovered from books or by any of our thoughts. But these paths are always opened in front of us and we are impelled along them. Imagine we are in a strange district at night and are crossing fields unmarked by any path, but we have a guide. He asks no advice nor tells us of his plans. So what can we do except trust him? (Abandonment to Divine Providence by Pére Jean-Pierre de Caussade, S.J.)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on November 16, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 18:1-8

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Yesterday’s gospel suggested that while we go about the humdrum of daily life, the presence of God can so transform our existence that even while we perform very simple acts, like sleeping or accomplishing a monotonous chore, our lives become transcendent. Today’s gospel, the passage which follows immediately on yesterday’s reading, tells us how. Jesus counsels us to pray always. I do not believe this is an idle teaching. For most of us, prayer seems like a mechanical activity which we may do just at certain times and certain situations, like while standing or kneeling in the pews on Sunday. Jesus in today’s gospel is telling us that prayer is as essential to our lives as breathing. We, however, are really busy, and creating space, both physical and temporal, for prayer, given all the pressures exerted on daily existence, is difficult. Jesus also was very busy, but his counsel that we pray always suggests he had an attitude and outlook on prayer which was not the same as ours. For Jesus, to pray meant living continually in God’s presence. As Blessed Charles de Foucauld observed, “Our entire person should breathe Jesus. All our actions and our entire life should proclaim that we belong to Jesus.” Even our smiling can be a song of praise to God. Praying in the broadest sense means that our whole lives tell, as Charles concluded, “Jesus lives within us, by the way that our actions are Jesus’ actions, working in and through us.” Prayer, in the sense of unceasing prayer, is cultivating an awareness of God’s presence from moment to moment in our lives. Jesus is inviting us in this gospel passage to become incarnate prayer.

Saint of the day: In the early hours of November 16, 1989, US-trained commandos of the Salvadoran armed forces entered the campus of the Jesuits’ university, the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), and brutally murdered six Jesuits together with two women who were sleeping in a parlor attached to their residence. The Jesuits were: the university rector Ignacio Ellacuría, 59, an internationally known 942198_10151708601886496_417713674_nphilosopher; Segundo Montes, 56, head of the Sociology Department and the UCA’s human rights institute; Ignacio Martín-Baró, 44, the pioneering social psychologist who headed the Psychology Department and the polling institute; theology professors Juan Ramón Moreno, 56, and Armando López, 53; and Joaquín López y López, 71, founding head of the Fe y Alegría network of schools for the poor. Joaquín was the only native Salvadoran, the others having arrived long before from Spain as young seminarians. Julia Elba Ramos, the wife of a caretaker at the UCA, and their daughter Celina, 16, were eliminated to ensure that there would be no witnesses. Ironically, the women had sought refuge from the noise of gunfire near their cottage on the edge of the campus. Julia Elba cooked for the Jesuit seminarians living near the UCA.

04_jesuit-muralAs early as the 1990s, the UCA massacre became the crime that would not go away. Thanks to international pressure, including a US Congressional Task Force, we learned who the real killers were. Outraged US citizens, especially Catholics, pressured their government to cut off the military aid that was indispensable for the conduct of the war. By then, it was becoming more difficult to justify the war as a defence against the international Communist threat. The massacre at the UCA took place at exactly the time that Berliners began knocking down their famous iron curtain wall. In El Salvador, the scandal generated by the murders helped to speed up the peace negotiations and later, by discrediting the Salvadoran military, to consolidate the peace. Like many others, the UCA martyrs were killed for the way they lived, that is, for how they expressed their faith in love.

Spiritual reading: May my soul bless you, O Lord God my Creator, may my soul bless you. From the very core of my being may all your merciful gifts sing your praise. Your generous care for your daughter has been rich in mercy; indeed it has been immeasurable, and as far as I am able I give you thanks. (Gertrude the Great)

Homily November 17, 2013 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on November 13, 2013

As Thanksgiving approaches and thoughts turn to family and holiday celebrations, the church liturgical year is again coming to an end with the next to last passage of the readings cycle from Luke. It is good to keep in mind that when we read today’s passage, the events described have all taken place as Luke was written about 80 AD. DestructionOfJerusalemThe Christians have seen persecution, wars, the betrayal of Jesus, his death and resurrection. They saw the temple being destroyed and Israel completely dominated by Rome. Persecution of the Christians was a common thing in their time and the gospel was encouraging them to not be fearful and to carry on. They should not be anxious over their immediate place and condition. God in the Holy Spirit would be with them to enable them to continue on in their belief and practice of Christianity and would help them in any persecution they might have to endure. The only fear they should have is fear in the other sense, a sense of awe or respect that we have when we are in the presence of another who is in one way or another greater or more important than ourself, such as God or an employer for instance.

In every century, there have been present the signs mentioned in the gospel. There have been wars, famines, earthquakes, storms and every other kind of disasters. There is climate change and earth warming, but as yet the world continues on. However, these signs and happenings are very real for some of our sisters and brothers who have gone before us. For them the end of their time on earth has come. What is to come for us and when the finality of creation will come or even what it means is really beyond what we could know or understand. As our knowledge grows we become more aware of death and war and disasters and all the harmful distressing things happening in our world. downloadYet Christ’s message to carry on, to endure every hardship and condition and to be faithful remains and gives us assurance and comfort as we seek to live out our daily life in the peace and love bestowed on us. Certainly, in subtle ways, our faith and our solidarity are tested by unbelief and disdain. A cynicism and indifference to religion seems to have arisen in our time, but by this we are even more strongly called to endure and be faithful and witness. Every day is a new beginning for us with every evening concluding and bringing us a new day. Living this cycle keeps us in the love of God and places us with him now and for all time to come. The time and turmoil of this world in one way or another will end and our passage to a life that really matters will put us standing before God our Father with the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit advocating for us.

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on November 13, 2013

tenLepersGospel reading of the day:

Luke 17:11-19

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten persons with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: While the gospel yesterday suggested God owes us no debt of gratitude, today’s gospel suggests that our gratitude to God heals and saves us. We sometimes feel gratitude as a natural impulse, as the Samaritan in today’s story did. But we are not powerless in our feelings of gratitude. Gratitude is a choice we can make from moment to moment, and we can make it, if we choose it often enough, a habit of life. When things are rough, and we feel anguish, we can become quiet for a few minutes, mindfully attending to our breaths, and then think of some great benefit that came to us in one moment of our lives or another and try to experience the emotion we felt in that instant of blessing. Doing this at different points in the day, several times a day, will make gratitude the choice elect, smooth our hearts, and make them supple to feel God’s loving presence as we make our way.

Saint of the day: Carl Lampert was born in Austria on January 9, 1894, the youngest of seven children of farmers Franz Xaver Lampert and his wife Maria Rosina Lampert. Though his father died when Carl was young, he was able to continue school because of an uncle who cared for him. Carl Lampert was ordained as a priest in Brixen in 1918. After studying canonical law in Rome, he was lampert_carl1appointed in 1935 director of the ecclesiastical court in the Apostolic Administration of Feldkirch. In 1939 he became pro-vicar of Innsbruck.

Carl Lampert was arrested several times for his protests against Nazi church policy and finally imprisoned in Dachau and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. After his release in August 1941, the Gestapo compelled Lampert to take up residence in Mecklenburg-Pomerania. He found accommodation in Stettin and assisted in ministry in the vicinity of the city. Even in exile, Lampert retained his critical attitude to the regime, unaware that he was under Gestapo observation. His discussions, telephone calls, and correspondence were under surveillance. In February 1943 Carl Lampert was arrested again along with 40 others and accused of high treason, espionage, undermining army morale, and aiding the enemy. He was severely maltreated during interrogation. The Gestapo accused him not only of expressing his opinions on the deportation of Jews and the murder of patients from psychiatric clinics but also of listening to foreign radio stations and “giving aid and comfort” to forced laborers

Together with two other priests, Father Herbert Simoleit and Father Friedrich Lorenz, he was beheaded on November 13, 1944. He died speaking the names of Jesus and Mary. He was beatified in 2011.

Spiritual reading: If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough. (Meister Eckhart)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on November 12, 2013

Today’s gospel reading:

Luke 17:7-10

Jesus said to the Apostles: “Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’? Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus teaches that God owes us no debt of gratitude when we do what God asks of us. God’s generosity to us is so great that we are not able to make even the slightest restitution. Jesus asks us to keep this in mind so we don’t become puffed up in pride. What Jesus does not say here but does say elsewhere is that God loves us and that when we carry the gospel with us in our daily lives, does indeed rejoice for our union with God.

Saint of the day: Blessed Bishop Gregory (Hryhorii) Lakota was born on January 31, 1883 in the village of Holodivka, in Lemko Region in the Ukraine. He studied theology in Lviv and was ordained to the priesthood in 1908 in the city of Przemysl. In Vienna, in 1911, he received his Ph.D. in theology. In 1913, he became a professor at the Greek Catholic seminary in Przemysl, later becoming its rector.

On May 16, 1926, he was ordained to the episcopacy and was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Przemysl. On June 9, 1946, he was arrested for his faith and sentenced to be imprisoned for 10 years in Vorkuta, Russia. He died in prison as a martyr for the faith on November 12, 1950, in the village of Abez, Vorkuta, Russia. He was beatified in June 2001.

Spiritual reading: People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It never was between you and them anyway. (Mother Teresa)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on November 11, 2013

6348e40279a70781b8985e59f8cdd035_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 17:1-6

He said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.” And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Today’s gospel reading gives us a collection of sayings by Jesus about sin and faith. Jesus shows himself to be a realist about the human condition, that sin inevitably will occur, but he also teaches us that despite the inevitability of wrong doing, we are not powerless. He observes that we have a responsibility to avoid harming others, particularly those who are the weakest and most dependent. Paul the apostle elsewhere in scripture instructs us that God allows us weakness that we can learn to trust God. Perhaps reflective of that perspective on sin and grace, Jesus calls us to be full of faith and trust that great things will come to pass.

Saint of the day: Martin of Tours may have lived in the fourth century, but his story is full of resonance for people who have lives in the 20th and 21st centuries. A conscientious objector who wanted to be a monk; a monk who was maneuvered into being a bishop; a bishop who fought paganism as well as pleaded for mercy to heretics—such was Martin of Tours, one of the most popular of saints and one of the first not to be a martyr.

martin-of-toursBorn of pagan parents in about 316 in what is now Hungary and raised in Italy, this son of a veteran was forced at the age of 15 to serve in the army. He became a Christian catechumen and was baptized at 18. It was said that he lived more like a monk than a soldier. At 23, he refused a war bonus and told his commander: “I have served you as a soldier; now let me serve Christ. Give the bounty to those who are going to fight. But I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight.” After great difficulties, he was discharged and went to be a disciple of Hilary of Poitiers. He was ordained an exorcist and worked with great zeal against the Arians. He became a monk, living first at Milan and later on a small island. When Hilary was restored to his see after exile, Martin returned to France and established what may have been the first French monastery near Poitiers. He aa-StMartinlived there for 10 years, forming his disciples and preaching throughout the countryside. The people of Tours demanded that he become their bishop. He was drawn to that city by a ruse—the need of a sick person—and was brought to the church, where he reluctantly allowed himself to be consecrated bishop. Some of the consecrating bishops thought his rumpled appearance and unkempt hair indicated that he was not dignified enough for the office.

A Bishop named Ithacius promoted the principle of putting heretics to death; Martin rejected this as well as the intrusion of the emperor into such matters. He prevailed upon the emperor to spare the life of the heretic Priscillian. For his efforts, Martin was accused of the same heresy, and Priscillian was executed after all. Martin then pleaded for a cessation of the persecution of Priscillian’s followers in Spain. He still felt he could cooperate with Ithacius in other areas, but afterwards his conscience troubled him about this decision.

As death approached, his followers begged him not to leave them. He prayed, “Lord, if your people still need me, I do not refuse the work. Your will be done.” He died in 397.

Spiritual reading: Do not forget that the value and interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous things…as to do ordinary things with the perception of their enormous value. (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin , S.J.)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on November 10, 2013

16a3a9511a49cfa6d51818753ba33a45_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 20:27, 34-38

Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward.

Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called out ‘Lord, ‘ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The resurrection of the dead represents a pivotal belief in the faith of Christians, and Jesus’ teaching about the resurrection is the theme of today’s reading. The Sadducees were a group of conservative Jews who lived at the time of Jesus; they included both aristocrats and priests attached to the temple in Jerusalem. The Sadducees believed the Pentateuch, that is, the first five books of the Bible, were the entirety of God’s revealed word, and they denied all other books were scripture. For this reason, they did not believe in the resurrection because the first five books of the Bible contain no direct references to its reality. Jesus, in today’s passage, however, takes the Pentateuch and uses it to provide evidence for the resurrection. He offers the Sadducees a verse from Exodus, the second book of the Pentateuch, and uses it to prove that there indeed is a resurrection.

In Exodus, when Moses is at the burning bush, God reveals Godself as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; Jesus pointedly asks the Sadducees how it is that God can make a claim about being the God of the living were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob not alive. Luke tells us that the Sadducees can say nothing, for the scriptures they themselves endorse, are used effectively by Jesus to refute their disbelief.

Spiritual reading: In all your dealings be slow to speak and say little, especially with your equals and those lower in dignity and authority than yourselves. Be ready to listen for long periods and until each one has had his say. Answer the questions put to you, come to an end, and take your leave. If a rejoinder is required, let your reply be as brief as possible, and take leave promptly and politely. (Letter to Fathers Broët and Salmerón by St. Ignatius of Loyola)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on November 9, 2013

09f87702ae6c66312141f784c71a691d_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 16:9-15

Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him. And he said to them, “You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: In the passage of scripture we read yesterday, Jesus counsels us, through the example of the servant who makes provision for the future, to be wily in our plans to advance the establishment of God’s Kingdom. In today’s gospel, Jesus advises us to use our wealth to make friends. Luke’s gospel is the gospel of material poverty; it is the gospel that establishes unambiguously the preferential option for the poor. As Luke sees it, we should use our wealth, whatever it may be–money, position, talents, or other resources–to make friends among the poor, and by means of such kindnesses, to secure the friendship of God. Money for Christians is not an object in itself but a tool to build the Kingdom of God in our midst.

Saint of the day: Elizabeth of the Trinity, O.C.D. was a French Discalced Carmelite nun, mystic and spiritual writer. She was born Élisabeth Catez on July 18, 1880 in the Avord military camp in Cher, the first-born child of Captain Joseph Catez and his wife, Marie Rolland. When Elizabeth was seven-years-old, her father died unexpectedly. The family then moved to Dijon. Elizabeth had a terrible temper as a child. After receiving her First Holy Communion in 1891 she became more controlled and had a deeper understanding of God and the world. She also gained a profound understanding of the Trinity. Elizabeth visited the sick and sang in the church choir. She taught religion to children who worked in factories.

355px-Portrait_d'Elisabeth_de_la_Trinité_à_l'age_de_50_ansSoon after, Elizabeth began to be interested in entering the Discalced Carmelites, although her mother strongly suggested her not to. Men had asked for Elizabeth’s hand in marriage, but she declined, because her dream was to enter the Carmelite monastery that was located 200 meters from her home. Elizabeth entered the Dijon Carmel on August 2, 1901. She said, “I find Him everywhere while doing the wash as well as while praying.” Her time in the Carmel had some high times as well as some very low times. Today, we know about all that she felt and experienced in her writings. She wrote down when she felt she needed a richer understanding of God’s great love.

At the end of her life, she began to call herself Laudem Gloriæ. Elizabeth had wanted to be called that in Heaven because it means “praise of glory.” She said, “I think that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls by helping them to go out of themselves in order to cling to God by a wholly simple and loving movement, and to keep them in this great silence within which will allow God to communicate Himself to them and to transform them into Himself.” Elizabeth died November 9, 1906 at the age of 26 from Addison’s disease, which in the early 20th century had no treatment. Even though her death was unbearable, Elizabeth still accepted that God gave her that gift and was grateful. Her last words were, “I am going to Light, to Love, to Life!” Elizabeth was beatified in 1984. Her best-known prayer is “Holy Trinity Whom I Adore” which she wrote out of her love of the Trinity. Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity is a patron of illness, sick people and loss of parents.

Spiritual reading: Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It’s the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too. (Frederick Buechner)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on November 8, 2013

the-martyr-1970Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 16:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’ The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’ Then to another he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than the children of light.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus provides an example of how people in the world calculate to gain an advantage over the future. When the Lord draws a distinction between these kind of people, “the children of this world,” and, “the children of light,” he is acknowledging that the behavior of the dishonest steward is not the behavior of people who live kingdom values. Yet Jesus presents the dishonest steward up as an example–as someone who deals shrewdly with his predicaments and makes plans to secure his future. In the gospel passage we read two days ago, Luke 14:25-33, Jesus offers the example of the builder of the tower who figures out before he starts, how he will finish his project. In the same passage, he describes the king marching into battle who realizes he is outnumbered and sues for peace while his enemy is at a distance. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells us that he sends us out as sheep among wolves and counsels us to be a wily as serpents even as we maintain the innocence of doves. Jesus in Luke 16:1-8 invites the children of light to be pragmatic in how they advance the kingdom. The gospel passage we read today, invites us to engage in a certain holy calculation to advance the kingdom’s agenda.

Saint of the day: Blessed John Duns Scotus was one of the most important and influential philosopher-theologians of the High Middle Ages. His brilliantly complex and nuanced thought, which earned him the nickname “the Subtle Doctor,” left a mark on discussions of such disparate topics as the semantics of religious language, the problem of universals, divine illumination, and the nature of human freedom. This essay first lays out what is known about Scotus’s life and the dating of his works. It then offers an overview of some of his key positions in scotusfour main areas of philosophy: natural theology, metaphysics, the theory of knowledge, and ethics and moral psychology. Scotus taught that God so loved the world that if humanity had not fallen, God would have gone ahead and figured out another reason to become part of God’s creation.

Scotus is a nickname: it identifies Scotus as a Scot. His family name was Duns, which was also the name of the Scottish village in which he was born, just a few miles from the English border. We do not know the precise date of his birth, but we do know that Scotus was ordained to the priesthood in the Franciscan Order at Saint Andrew’s Priory in Northampton, England, on March 17, 1291. 2635589_f520The minimum age for ordination was twenty-five, so we can conclude that Scotus was born before March 17, 1266. But how much before? The conjecture, plausible but by no means certain, is that Scotus would have been ordained as early as canonically permitted. Since the Bishop of Lincoln (the diocese that included Oxford, where Scotus was studying, as well as St Andrew’s Priory) had ordained priests in Wycombe on December 23, 1290, we can place Scotus’s birth between December 23, 1265 and March 17, 1266.

It appears that Scotus began his formal studies at Oxford in October 1288 and concluded them in June 1301. In the academic year 1298–99 he commented on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. We know that by the fall of 1302 Scotus was lecturing on the Sentences in Paris. In June 1303 Scotus was expelled from France along with eighty other friars for taking the Pope’s side in a dispute with the king. They were allowed to return in April 1304; it appears that Scotus completed his lectures on the Sentences not long thereafter. On November 18, 1304 Scotus was appointed the Franciscan regent master in theology at Paris. For reasons no one quite understands, Scotus was transferred to the Franciscan studium at Cologne, probably beginning his duties as lector in October 1307. He died there in 1308; the date of his death is traditionally given as November 8. He is buried in a Franciscan church in Cologne. Scotus was officially named a “blessed” of the Church in 1991.

Spiritual reading: We must be careful with our lives, for Christ’s sake, because it would seem that they are the only lives we are going to have in this puzzling and perilous world, and so they are very precious and what we do with them matters enormously. (Frederick Buechner)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on November 7, 2013

655bd8ba113084756d2cb36ecaecd594_w600Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 15:1-10

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus addressed this parable to them. “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.

“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’ In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Every human person has dignity. The crack addict . . . the sex worker . . . the murderer on death row: every human person, whether admired or reviled by the world, has an immense and innate dignity as a creation from the hands of our good God. If the parable of the Good Shepherd means anything at all, it means that God created us all, loves us all, and is working to bring us all home, into what may be the first embrace many of us have ever had the opportunity to feel. The parable of the Good Shepherd implies that the kingdom is in places we don’t expect to find it, in places where our biases and, for some of us, our disgust prevent us from seeing it. Jesus asks us to look more deeply into the smallness and sordidness of human existence to understand how the kingdom is mysteriously at work.

Saint of the day: The Servant of God Francis Michael “Frank” Duff was born in Dublin in June 1889, the eldest of seven children of John and Susan (née Freehill) Duff. He attended Blackrock College and then entered the Civil Service at age 18. Six years later, when he was 24, he joined the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and experienced the real poverty of the Dublin of Frank_Duffthat time. Many who lived in tenement squalor were forced to attend soup kitchens for sustenance, and some of the natural consequences of abject poverty, including alcoholism and prostitution, were rife in Dublin. Duff joined the St. Patrick’s Conference in the St. Nicholas of Myra parish and soon rose through the ranks to become the president of the group.

In 1916, aged 27, Duff published his first pamphlet, Can we be Saints?, in which he expressed the conviction that all without exception are called to be saints, and that through Christian faith all persons have available the means necessary to attain sainthood. In 1917 he came to know the treatise of St. Louis de Montfort on the true devotion to Mary, a work that brought to his attention the importance of Mary in the life of the laity. Along with a group of Catholic women and Fr. Michael Toher, a priest of the Dublin Archdiocese, he formed the first branch of what was to become the first praesidium of the Legion of Mary on September 7, 1921. From that day until his death, with the help of many others, he guided the worldwide extension of the Legion. In 1965, Pope Paul VI invited Duff to attend the Second Vatican Council as a Lay Observer, an honor that recognized and affirmed Duff’s work for the lay apostolate. Duff died at age 91 on November 7, 1980 and was interred in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin. The diocesan investigation into Frank Duff’s cause for canonization opened in 1996.

Spiritual reading: You were loved because God loves, period. God loved you, and everyone, not because you believed in certain things, but because you were a mess, and lonely, and His or Her child. God loved you no matter how crazy you felt on the inside, no matter what a fake you were; always, even in your current condition, even before coffee. (Anne Lamott)

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on November 6, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 14:25-33

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, ‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’ Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus teaches that building the kingdom of God among us requires preparation on our part. The temptation is to sit in front of a television or in our living rooms with a good book with a vague intention one day to volunteer to visit prisoners or drive the food wagon for the local soup kitchen that feeds the homeless. Building the kingdom of God with concrete actions requires some foresight, developing a plan, and following through with it. Building God’s kingdom means planning plans while leaving the results to God.

Saint of the day: Catechist Joseph Khang was born in the year 1832 in the Christian community of Vietnam. At age 16, after his father died, he said goodbye to his mother with the intention of studying for the priesthood. The persecution that arose against the Christians in Vietnam changed all his plans, and all the colleges and seminaries were closed. Joseph eventually became a lay Dominican.

The fate of Joseph Khang was the same that befell Bishop Jerome Hermosilla with whom he was taken prisoner. Joseph’s faithfulness was admirable since he could have escaped. Nonetheless, he preferred to remain at the side of the bishop. He observed, “If the Bishop dies for the faith, so will I.” Joseph was cruelly whipped several times and subjected to other tortures but he bore his afflictions bravely, remaining happy and peaceful and carrying himself with dignity. Joseph was decapitated on December 6, 1861, a few days after his beloved bishop was beheaded. He was canonized in 1988.

Spiritual reading: We are one, after all, you and I. Together we suffer, together exist, and forever will recreate each other. (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.)