Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Forgiving others is crucial (and maybe easier than you think.)

September 12, 2020

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In Jesus’ parable today, a servant owes his king a huge debt, more precisely (in the original Greek) 10,000 silver talents. This was an amount equal to 150,000 years’ worth of labor in the ancient world, something akin to $4.5 billion today. It’s an unrepayable debt, but the servant’s king is rich in compassion; he feels pity and forgives the man’s entire loan.

Now, this servant was a creditor himself, and one of his fellow servants owed him a significant but much smaller amount, literally 100 denarii, which was 100 days’ wages back then. Think of it like $10,000. The newly debt-free man sought out this fellow servant and started to choke him, demanding, “Pay back what you owe!” Despite pleading for patient mercy, that first servant put the second into debtors’ prison until he should pay back his debt.

Now when other servants witnessed all of this they felt deeply troubled by it. They went and reported the whole situation to the king and master of them all. The king summoned the unforgiving servant and pronounced a swift judgment: “You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?” Then, in anger, his master threw him into debtors’ prison as well until he should pay back his whole debt.

The king was clearly angry. One rarely-considered reason for his anger is that all of these servants were his own. The 100 denarii debtor suffered by being tossed into prison, his fellow servants suffered from witnessing the scandal, and all of this impacted the king personally. Their distress affects him deeply, for the king is compassionate, but it affected him in another way as well: his servants being detained or disturbed by this unhappy affair kept them from doing his important work. They’re all his servants, but the actions of one impeded the others from freely and fully fulfilling his will.

Of course, the king and master in this parable represents God. Who on earth forgives someone’s $4.5 billion personal debt like our Lord forgives the debt of our sins? And we are each his servants, like St. Paul says, “whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” So, if we are to learn a lesson from the servant whose great debt was forgiven, how can we avoid imprisoning or impeding our fellow servants? Through merciful love.

When someone is angry with you, yells at you, or criticizes you, when you know someone dislikes or despises you, how does that affect you? Does your tension and anxiety go up? Do you think about that person and the situation obsessively? Do you run scenarios in your mind about what you wish you had said or done previously, or what you’ll do the next time you cross paths? Do you avoid that person, or the places they could be, and feel uncomfortable in their presence? Do you gossip to others about your ongoing bitter conflict, thereby spreading the scandal to them? If so, then you’re being imprisoned, partially impeded in your peaceful service of our Lord.

We can easily have this effect on others by how we treat them. And cherishing and nurturing our own anger makes a prisoner of yourself to anger. When you experience some slight or shortcoming from another, be gracious. Maybe just let it be; let it pass. Give their actions a most-generous interpretation. Mistakes are more common than malevolence. And you yourself have bad days, too.

Sometimes, though, we need to address matters for the common good. As we heard about last week, love sometimes calls us to do fraternally correction. But when we do it, let’s do it with a kindly, gentle spirit, sharing the truth in love that they might be able to receive it. Merciful love is necessary to keep each other out of prison, the prison of unrepentance and the prison unforgiveness.

In the Our Father, we pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Jesus teaches his disciples, “If you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” And at the end of today’s parable, Jesus warns us that our fate will be like that of the unforgiving servant ‘unless you forgive your brother from your heart.’ Now many Christians find this teaching deeply disconcerting. They’re troubled because they believe they just can’t forgive. But I usually find they think this because they imagine forgiveness means something it’s not.

Forgiving is not the same thing as forgetting. You can’t force yourself to have amnesia and forget. You might remember the misdeed for the rest of your life. And forgiveness doesn’t mean saying what someone did wasn’t serious or wrong. The offense committed may have been a grave sin and to say otherwise would be a lie. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that what someone did no longer hurts. Only grace and time can heal some wounds, but we can forgive even with lingering pains. Forgiveness doesn’t require you to pretend nothing happened. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that everything must go back to the way it was before. Forgiveness might lead to full reconciliation, but not always. You can forgive someone even before they can be trusted. You can forgive even before they are sorry for what they did. Why? Because forgiveness means loving someone despite the wrongs that they have done.

Forgiveness is loving someone despite their sins. Is there someone you’re worried that you haven’t forgiven? Then pray for them, because you can’t hate someone and pray for them at the same time. Is there someone you find it hard to pray for? Then that’s whom you should pray for, for their sake and for yours. Jesus came to reconcile us to one another and to the Father. So have mercy. Jesus works to heal the wounds of sin and division. So have mercy. And Jesus intercedes for us with our Father. So have mercy, too.

Jesus’ Longing for You

June 14, 2020

Corpus Christi Sunday—Year A

After the suspension in March, our parish went eleven weekends without the public celebration of Sunday Masses. Throughout Salvation History, the number forty symbolizes times of purification, preparation, and longing. For most people, being away meant about eighty days (forty twice over) without physically receiving our Eucharistic Lord. For many, their yearning for Jesus in the Eucharist has never been greater. Feast of Corpus Christi homily usually focus (quite fittingly) upon the Real Presence, the beautiful truth that Jesus Christ is truly present, body and blood, soul and divinity, alive in the Holy Eucharist. As St. Paul says in our second reading, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ?” You are probably well-informed about this already; that’s why you have been longing for Him in the Eucharist. Today I feel moved to speak about Jesus Christ’s Eucharistic longing for you.

Jesus Christ’s desire for us is foreshadowed in the Old Testament; for instance, in The Song of Songs. There the beloved says of her spouse: “My lover speaks and says to me, ‘Arise, my friend, my beautiful one, and come! Let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.’” Later this same man, prefiguring Christ, declares: “I have come to my garden, my sister, my bride; … I eat my honeycomb with my honey, I drink my wine with my milk. Eat, friends; [and] drink!

In the Book of Proverbs, God’s personified wisdom speaks: “Let whoever is naive turn in here; to any who lack sense I say, Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.” The foolishness we must forsake is our sins, for what is freely-chosen sin if not harmful foolishness? Jesus seeks to bring about sinners’ salvation, in part, through drawing them to his meal, to share his presence, his food and drink. Jesus once responded to criticisms of his ministry saying: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.

A Samaritan woman with many sins once asked Jesus, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” He answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Later, on the last and greatest day of a Jewish feast, Jesus stood up in the temple area and exclaimed: “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink.” Before his miraculous multiplication of loaves of bread, Jesus called his disciples to himself and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” Jesus wants to feed us (we who have remained with him) as well, to strengthen us on our way. The food and drink Jesus desires you and I to receive are not mere objects for bodily sustenance — it is his very self. “I am the living bread that came down from Heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever… For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.

At the Last Supper, which was the first Mass, Jesus told his disciples, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you… Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body, which will be given up for you.” Jesus earnestly desires to share his feast, this Mass, to unite with us today. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him and he with me.” Jesus is divine, but he’s also human. He dwells in Heaven, but he has human desires for you and me and our world. If you have yearned for Jesus in the Eucharist, if you have desired to receive him these past months, consider how much more Jesus Christ longs and desires for you.

Love Languages — Funeral for Audrey Stoik, 84

June 3, 2020

On behalf of St. Paul’s Catholic Church, I offer you my condolences on the passing of Audrey, one of our well-known and well-loved parishoners. During this challenging time, for you who know and love Audrey best and for everyone in our country, I am pleased and honored that we can offer this public funeral Mass for her soul and for yours’.

Have you ever heard of The Five Love Languages? They were first presented under that title in a 1992 book of the same name. The premise of the Five Love Languages is that we express and receive some forms of love more readily than other forms, and that different individuals tend to prefer differing love languages over others. What are these five general categories of love? They are: Gift Giving, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Affectionate Touch, & Acts of Service. What are your favorite love languages? Perhaps later you can try guessing the favorites of the people in your lives. The reason I mention all of this is because particular love languages came to my mind as I heard multiple stories about Audrey.

Her top two love languages seemed to be Gift Giving & Acts of Service. For example, when Audrey prepared meals for her family, she was loving them through both service and gifts. I’m told you never left her house without receiving something: cookies, brownies, muffins, potato dumplings, caramel popcorn, French dressing, or something else. If you asked something of her, whether it be making dozens of cookies for your wedding or making flip flops for the graduation class, she would get it done. The many afghan blankets she weaved and gifted continue to warm homes and families. Audery, even through trials, cared for nine children and her husband. In nine years, she and Frank had eight of their nine kids. She sacrificed for them all in many ways, for instance, driving a manual transmission milk truck through the countryside to the dairies to make some extra money for the family. One day, she delivered milk in the morning and delivered one of her children in the afternoon.

What is the source of such sacrificial love? What is the power empowering self-gifting love? That source and power why we are gathered here today for Audrey, rather than somewhere else. As St. Paul’s writes, “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, died at the appointed time for the ungodly.” That is service and gift. And Jesus not only died for us, but rose from the dead before us, and calls each of us to follow him. Jesus declares, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Whenever we come to God’s house, he wants us to come as his true family, true friends. This first requires our true conversion but Jesus desires we never have us leave his house without receiving a precious gift; the food of a meal and sacrifice which is his very Self. By the Holy Eucharist at Mass, Jesus loves us using all five love languages together:

Words:  “This is my body, given up for you.”
Time:  “Could you not [stay] one hour with me?”
Touch:  He places himself into our hands.
Service:  He offers himself up for us.
Gift:  He gives himself to us as a gift.

Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. When we approach God, in intimacy and likeness, we approach through him. So do not let your hearts be troubled. Audrey’s love reflects Christ’s love and our saving Lord has been its source.

Humility, Truth, & Love — 30th Sunday of Ordinary Time—Year C

October 28, 2019

Today’s second reading from the Second Letter to Timothy has St. Paul declaring near the end of his earthly life: “I have competed well, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me…” Recall how at the Visitation, after encountering her cousin Elizabeth, St. Mary declares about herself: “[God] has looked with favor on his lowly servant; from this day all generations will call me blessed.” Are these humble things for Mary and Paul to say about themselves?

Well, they’re both true statements, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Paul, having finished his race, is now a triumphant saint in Heaven, and the Church calls Mary the Blessed Virgin in every generation even to our day. True humility is not thinking that you’re dirt, it is being down-to-earth, well-grounded, and rooted in reality. Jesus says, “Let your light shine before others,” and the Blessed Virgin Mary pleases and honors God when she states, “The Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.” God has done good things for you as well, so thank and praise and glorify him for it!

But wait a minute, someone might object, wasn’t the Pharisee who went up to pray at the Temple in Jesus’ parable today also thanking God and declaring true statements about himself? What if this Pharisee did fast twice a week; what if he did pay tithes on his entire income; and was neither greedy, dishonest, nor adulterous? That is what’s implied by the parable, and those are all very good things! So why then does he incur our Lord and God’s displeasure?

Today’s gospel says “Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.” Jesus says the Pharisee took up his position at the Temple and spoke this prayer to himself, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector.” Imagine the Pharisee praying these words out loud, within earshot of this tax collector in front of everybody. Yet, even if the Pharisee prayed silently, or quietly to himself, and his neighbor did not hear him; the Pharisee despised the tax collector and the rest of humanity, and did not gain God’s pleasure. Like St. Paul once wrote, “If I give away everything I own, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.” In order to gain Heaven; truth, love, and sacrifice all need to go together within us.

We see the truth, authentic love, and self-sacrifice combined in the inspiring life of the twentieth century saint, Edith Stein. She was born into a Orthodox Jewish family but renounced her faith by the age of thirteen and embraced atheism. She went on to become a respected PhD in philosophy. Then, one night while staying with friends on a vacation, she read the entire autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila. The following morning she put the book down and declared, “That is the truth,” and responded accordingly. She was baptized a Catholic at the age of thirty, became a Carmelite nun and took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, like the Carmelite St. Teresa of Avila before her. During World War II, because of her Jewish ancestry, the Nazis came to arrest her along with her biological sister Rosa, who worked at the convent. Teresa Benedicta reportedly said to Rosa, “Come. Let us go and die for our people.” They were taken to Auschwitz where survivors of the death camp testified that the nun helped other sufferers with great compassion. A week after their arrest, she and her sister were killed in the gas chamber. St. Teresa Benedicta comes to my mind this Sunday because of one of her most famous quotes: “Do not accept anything as truth that lacks love and do not accept anything as love that lacks truth. One without the other is a destructive lie.

It could be said that the proud Pharisee in our parable had the truth without love, while our culture today has many (so called) loves apart from the truth. Through our friendship, our prayers, and our perseverance, the tax collectors we know today need to encounter love and the truth, that they might turn to Jesus and say “O God, be merciful to me a sinner,” and be saved. If you think you see someone seriously sinning; perhaps in your circles or our community, on TV or in the news; be sure—at very least—to pray for them. Maybe you’re right, which means that they are greatly in need of your prayer. Or perhaps you’re judging rashly or too harshly, in which case you are in need more prayer. In any case, you cannot both hate someone and pray for someone at the same time, because praying for someone is an act of love.

As Jesus tells us, “the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Praying for and loving sinners makes you their servant in the likeness of Christ. Jesus came to us, he told us the truth, he prayed and interceded for us, and he even died for us – you and me and everyone. Jesus wants all of us to be like him, loving in truth and sharing the truth in love.

Jesus is Asking you for a Date

February 1, 2018

Jesus is asking you for a date: it’s February 14th. This year, Ash Wednesday lands on St. Valentine’s Day. These two observances, seemingly opposite, are both in fact dedicated to love. Little is known with certainty about St. Valentine, the 3rd century martyr buried near Rome. According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, ‘the popular customs associated with Saint Valentine’s Day undoubtedly had their origin in a conventional belief generally received in England and France during the Middle Ages, that on February 14th (i.e., half way through the 2nd month of the year) the birds began to pair.’ Valentine’s Day is a celebration of eros, the romantic form of love that delights in loving the beloved. Ash Wednesday calls us to agape, the form of love that is willing to undergo sufferings for another’s good.

Jesus commands us to love: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. … You shall love your neighbor as yourself. … As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” We must give of ourselves to God and neighbor yet we can only give of what we possess; this means we must be able to say “no” to ourselves in order to give a fuller “yes” to others. Such self-mastery comes through asceticism. By disciplining our desires through mortification and penance we grow in our conversion and virtue. Internal and external acts of Christian self-denial are typically done privately, but Jesus Christ’s Church prescribes communal penances for the season of Lent.

All Catholics who are at least fourteen years old are to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday, on Lent’s Fridays, and on Good Friday. Catholics at least eighteen years of age must also fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday until reaching their fifty-ninth birthday. What is “fasting?” Lenten fasting means eating just one full meal that day. Two additional smaller meals (less than one full meal when put together) are allowed if necessary, but snacking on solid foods between meals is not. Physically, mentally, or chronically ill persons, as well as pregnant or nursing mothers, are exempt from Lent’s fasting and meat abstinence rules. However, merely being in a dating relationship, engaged to someone, or married, does not.

There will be no fancy steak dinners for Catholics this Valentine’s Day. (Perhaps make romantic dinner reservations for February 13th or 15th instead – you’ll end up with an even better table.) Eros love and agape love can certainly complement each other. Jesus Christ delights in his Church as his beloved bride while also being prepared to greatly suffer and lay down his life for us. This Ash Wednesday, Valentine’s Day, let us perfect our love for our beloveds through ascetic self-denial and elated gifts of self.

The Holy Family and Yours

January 1, 2018

Every year, Holy Mother Church presents the Holy Family for our contemplation and imitation. Some imagine life in the home of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the soft, pastel colors of a Christmas card; so holy, so flawless, so unobtainable. We wonder, “Can the Holy Family and my family really relate to one another?” At least two out of the three members of the Holy Family never sinned in their entire lives together. We, meanwhile, could jokingly refer to the Feast of the Holy Family as “Elbow-Nudge Sunday.” Throughout the world this day, wives and husbands, parents and children, take turns gently nudging one another as they listen to God’s words about marriage and family life. The Holy Family was holy, but that doesn’t mean their lives were easy or smooth.

I’ve previously written about the stresses and difficulties of the holy couple leading up to the first Christmas: about Mary’s crisis pregnancy, about Joseph grappling with his wife telling him the child within her is the Son of God and Joseph contemplating a divorce, about their giving birth to that holy child in an animal stable. And their trials together continued after Jesus’ birth.

Imagine being Mary and hearing Simeon prophesy, “Behold, this child is destined … to be a sign that will be contradicted — and you yourself a sword will pierce…” How would that make you feel about the future for you and your child? Picture being Mary as her husband awakes and says “our boy is being hunted, we need to leave tonight.” Consider Joseph, the servant-leader of his family, having to pack-up quickly and leave so much behind to take his family into hiding in Egypt. Later, an angel tells Joseph to bring his family back into Israel. So Joseph returns with Jesus and Mary, but he’s afraid to resettle in the south because the son of Herod the Great now rules Judea. With the help of another dream, Joseph decides to resettle in the north, in Nazareth of Galilee.

I mention all this because St. Joseph, the just and holy man, feared an earthly king even as he trusted God. St. Mary at the Annunciation did not know all the details of her future, but she trusted in God by saying, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” Our Lord Jesus, sweating blood from stress the night before he died, trusted God to say, “Not my will but yours be done.” Their holy lives were often difficult, but God always rewarded their trust, bringing about good for them in the end.

In Genesis, Abram (whose name later got changed to Abraham) was promised a son by the Lord. But the childless Abraham looks at the old age of his wife and himself and asks, ‘Will my steward, Eliezer, be my heir?‘ God answers, ‘No, not him; your own flesh and blood son shall be your heir.’ Then the Lord took Abraham outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.” And Abraham put his faith in the Lord.

When I first heard this story (and maybe when you heard it too) I assumed this event happened at night. But the message is even more powerful if God told him to “look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can,” during the daytime. Where do the stars go during the day? We know they’re still there, even though the Sun’s brightness the sky’s blueness prevent us from seeing them. Abraham trusted in the Lord’s unwavering goodwill towards him and beheld God’s word fulfilled in the birth of Isaac. Through that son, Abraham received glory and the whole world was blessed.

One of the things Jesus says in the Gospels more than anything else is, “Be not afraid.” Sacrifice your fears. Imagine taking those obsessive worrying thoughts from your mind, placing them upon the altar, and lighting them afire like a sacrifice of old to God. “Let the peace of Christ control your heart…” Trust that “God works all things for the good of those who love him” and then “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

God not only wants peace within us, but peace among us as well. In our homes there is always room for improvement. The household of the Holy Family may have been a sinless one, but mistakes and miscommunications surely happened. Joseph probably broke or misplaced tools. Mary probably burnt an occasional loaf of bread. From the Gospels we know they both thought they knew where their 12-year-old boy was as they left Jerusalem for home; several hours passed before they realized he was missing. Even when we deeply love one another, we must learn and practice how to love and serve each other better.

We love each other in many ways, and the best modes by which we experience love can vary from person to person. The book “The Five Love Languages” lays out five major ways that we give and receive love, namely:

Gift Giving
Acts of Service
Affectionate Touch
Words of Affirmation
Quality Time

What are your top-two love languages? Can you guess the preferred languages of your spouse and children? Sometimes we try to love others as ourselves by loving them exactly as ourselves and we unfortunately miss our mark. For example, imagine a spouse complaining, “Why don’t you let me know that you love me,” when they really mean “why don’t you get me surprises anymore” (gift giving) or “why don’t you tell me that I delight you and you’re pleased with me” (words of affirmation.) At this, their spouse might reply, “What do you mean? I’m loving you all the time,” when they’re really saying “I take care of the kids and do housework” (acts of service) and “We eat and sit in the living room together every evening” (quality time.) These two loving spouses are loving past each other.

Learn the preferred love languages of your family members, and don’t expect others read your mind, sabotaging our own happiness. Tell them how to delight you. They love you and they want to make you happy. Don’t attack and criticize (“You always this” or “You never that”) but invite them to bless you. And pray together, as a couple and a family. The Holy Family surely did and its one of the most valuable things I can recommend. Some married couples, who have shared a bed for years, have never revealed their personal prayer requests to each other. Pray together, and then even whenever frictions arise, you will remember that you are on the same team, together on the same side with God.

Your home will never be perfect – not even the Holy Family’s was perfect. Life’s circumstances will go awry, and there will be sins we have to apologize for and forgive one another. But with trust in God and a daily commitment to loving and serving each other better, you too can live in the peace and joy of the Holy Family.

Jesus Asks, “Do You Love Me?”

April 9, 2016

Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter by Pietro Perugino (detail)In St. Peter along the shore of Galilee, Jesus is asking this question of us: “Do you love me?” We each have a choice to make in how we respond.

You can answer like Simon Peter in the high priest’s courtyard, with blasphemous denials and lingering regret. Or you can answer like St. Peter the Rock, who said, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you,” and then lived a life which proved that love.  How are you going to answer?

I do not know the particulars of Christ’s will and plan for you, but I know it consists at least in this: to pray every day, to attend Mass every week, and to strive to do His will for the rest of your days.

Jesus Washed Their Feet

March 10, 2016

Jesus Washing Peter's Feet by Ford Maddox Brown, 1852-6.[Jesus] loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. … So, [during the Last Supper,] he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. … So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.

—The Gospel of John, chapter 13

In 1955, Pope Pius XII inserted an optional washing of the feet rite into the Mass of Holy Thursday, the liturgy which commemorates the events of the night before Jesus died. This foot-washing rite is called the Mandatum (from the Latin for “the Mandate”) for Jesus said, “as I have done for you, you should also do.

Though the rubrics (that is, the rules for the liturgy) required no specific number of persons to have their feet washed in this optional rite, they indicated that the participants were to be men. This year, this rite which recalls Christ’s humble gesture of service and charity has been revised by a decree promulgated by Pope Francis. Where this rite is celebrated, pastors are to “select a small group of the faithful to represent the variety and the unity of each part of the people of God. Such small groups can be made up of men and women, and it is appropriate that they consist of people young and old, healthy and sick, clerics, consecrated men and women and laity.”

In past years, it has often been difficult to find people to humbly “bear their soles” on Holy Thursday but perhaps it may be a little easier this year. If you would volunteer to take a seat in this year’s washing of the feet, please contact Father so that he may create a representative group of our faithful.

Our Lord as Love

January 27, 2016

Thomas answered and said to [Jesus], ‘My Lord and my God!’”

—Gospel of John 20:28

Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.”

—1st Letter of John 4:8

“Brothers and sisters: Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have [Jesus], I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have [Jesus], I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast, but do not have [Jesus], I gain nothing.

[Jesus] is patient, [Jesus] is kind. [He] is not jealous, [he] is not pompous, [he] is not inflated, [he] is not rude, [he] does not seek [his] own interests, [he] is not quick-tempered, [he] does not brood over injury, [he] does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. [He] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [Jesus] never fails.”

—1st Letter of Paul to the Corinthians 12:31-13:8

The Meaning of Life

June 9, 2015

Homer Simpson once had this exchange with “God”:

HomerGod, I’ve gotta ask you something.
What’s the meaning of life?

God:      Homer, I can’t tell you that.
HomerC’mon!
God:      You’ll find out when you die.
HomerI can’t wait that long!
God:      You can’t wait six months?
HomerNo, tell me now!
God:      Well, OK. The meaning of life is…

[The theme song and ending credits interrupt before we hear the answer.]

So what is the meaning of life? Why are we here, for what purpose do we exist?

Philosophers and TV writers may balk at the answer, but for Christians this is not an unanswerable riddle. Jesus Christ tells us what we are meant to do on earth (and likewise, in Heaven): first, to “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,” and second, to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:30-31, & Luke 10:27-28)

Nothing is more important than this. This is what the Law, the Gospels, the prophets, and the saints are all about. Loving relationship with God and each other is the meaning of our lives. Of what enduring value is anything else if separated from this?

Blessed with knowing this precious knowledge, how are you going to live?

Theological Gifts & Obligations — Tuesday, 15th Week of Ordinary Time

July 15, 2014

Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24

Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! … For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

In the visitation of Jesus Christ, Chorazin and Bethsaida had advantages that no people before them had ever enjoyed. The Word of God was before them, but they did not accept him. Incarnate love was among them, but they did not embrace him. The hope of the world was in their midst, but they did not change their ways.

Consider how much more understanding we have of Christ and his teachings than they, how much we have experienced the love of Christ and his people, how many prophesies of Christ we have seen fulfilled. How much more cause do we have to respond to him with faith, hope, and love; how much more of an obligation. As St. Bonaventure said:

“Three things are necessary to everyone regardless of status, sex, or age, i.e., truth of faith which brings understanding; love of Christ which brings compassion; endurance of hope which brings perseverance. No adult is in the state of salvation unless he has faithful understanding in his mind, loving compassion in his heart, and enduring perseverance in his actions.”

The Two Mountains — Wednesday, 3rd Week of Lent

March 26, 2014

Readings: Deuteronomy 4:5-9, Matthew 5:17-19

[W]hat great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him? Or what great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law which I am setting before you today?

The greatness of Israel among the nations consisted not merely in their moral law but in their intimacy with God. As C.S. Lewis once observed, “The road to the promised land runs past Sinai.” The morality of Mount Sinai is essential to the journey, but our goal is to worship on Mount Zion.

Immediately following today’s Gospel about fulfilling the Law, Jesus declares, “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The Pharisees and scribes kept the commandments pretty well but they were often far from God.

This Lent, let us not only focus on growing in our moral practices, but also on our love and intimacy with the Lord.

Increasing Intimacy in your Marriage & Home

February 13, 2014

Physical intimacy is an important aspect of marriage, but it is certainly not the only kind of intimacy. A marriage in which the intimacy shared is exclusively physical will not endure. The acronym “SPICE” contains five modes of sharing intimacy: Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Creative, and Emotional. Sharing your prayers, touches, ideas, projects, and feelings are all important elements to keeping your marriage strong.

Another issue in relationships between spouses and within households comes in how love is expressed and received. Gary Chapman’s 1995 book, “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate,” suggests that people prefer to receive love in different ways. Chapman describes five main ways, or languages, by which love is experienced: Gifts, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, and Physical Touch. Some people feel love most deeply when their spouses help around the house and with the kids (Acts of Service) but feel little thrill from receiving gifts, such as golf clubs or jewelry.

A problem arises when people understandably, but mistakenly, assume that the significant others in their lives receive love best through the same love language as themselves. They try to love their neighbor just like themselves without realizing that their love languages differ. For instance, people whose main love language is Quality Time may feel neglected or even abandoned, despite their spouses’ tender caresses and sincere compliments, if not enough time is shared together between them at home. Knowing another’s love language allows you to love them in the manner they most want to be loved.

  • What are your top-two favorite Love Languages?
  • Can you guess what your spouse and children’s top Love Languages are?
  • Share your answers with each other—you may discover something new.
  • How can you add more SPICE, more Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Creative, and Emotional Intimacy, into your marriage and your home?

Remade for Love — 5th Sunday of Easter—Year C

April 27, 2013

Today, Jesus gives us his new commandment: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” What a challenge this is! Consider how Jesus loved us: he lived and died for us! Loving people like Jesus does is not an easy commandment to keep, yet we must keep it. As Saint Paul preached, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

It is not easy to love as Christ loves, but the Lord assists those who seek to please and serve him. God matures us in love through our ordinary, daily lives. And God perfects us in love through our hard times. We have no lack of opportunities: daily life gives us countless chances to love as Jesus would. And wherever we are too weak to grow or change ourselves, the Lord permits us to experience difficulties in order to transform us. Like a doctor, he sometimes gives us bitter medicine to cure our illnesses.

I have seen this happen in my own life. When I was little, it was painful to be teased by my peers, but this led to my practice of treating everyone kindly. When I was older, it hurt to discover that the first woman I fell in love with did not share my feelings, but this experience cured me of my cynicism about the beauty of romantic love. When I was newly ordained, my first assignments were challenging, but this made me a better priest. All these things displeased me at the time, but now I am grateful for their results.

Can you see how God has used the difficulties of your life to make you become more like Jesus Christ? Then do not lose heart when new difficulties come to you. Through all these things, our love is being made into the perfect likeness of Jesus Christ. God refuses to leave us as we are. Instead, as the One who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Hoy, Jesús nos da su mandamiento nuevo: “Que os améis los unos a los otros. Que, como yo os he amado, así os améis también vosotros los unos a los otros.” ¡Qué desafío es esto! Considere como Jesús nos ha amado: él vivió y murió por nosotros! Amar a las personas como Jesús no es un mandamiento fácil de mantener, sin embargo, deben mantenerlo. Como San Pablo predicó: “Es necesario que pasemos por muchas tribulaciones para entrar en el Reino de Dios.”

No es fácil amar como Cristo ama, pero el Señor ayuda a aquellos que tratan de agradar y servir a él. Dios nos madura en el amor a través de nuestras vidas cotidianas. Y Dios nos perfecciona en el amor a través de nuestros tiempos difíciles. No tenemos ninguna falta de oportunidades: la vida cotidiana nos da innumerables posibilidades de amar como Jesús lo haría. Y donde estemos demasiado débiles para crecer o cambiar nosotros mismos, el Señor nos permite experimentar dificultades para transformarnos. Él es como un médico, que a veces nos da la amarga medicina para curar nuestras enfermedades.

He visto que esto suceda en mi propia vida. Cuando era pequeña, era doloroso para ser objeto de burlas por mis compañeros, pero esto me llevó a la práctica de tratar a todos con amabilidad. Cuando fui mayor, me dolía al descubrir que la primera mujer que me enamoré no compartía los mismos sentimientos que yo tenia, pero esta experiencia me curó de mi cinismo acerca de la belleza del amor romántico. Después de mi ordenación, mis primeros trabajos fueron duros para mí, pero me hizo un mejor sacerdote. Todas estas cosas me disgustaron en su momento, pero ahora estoy agradecido por sus resultados.

¿Puedes de ver cómo Dios ha usado a las dificultades de tu vida para hacer más como Jesucristo? Entonces no perder el corazón cuando las nuevas dificultades vengan a ti. A través de todas estas cosas, nuestro amor se convirtió en la imagen perfecta del amor de Jesucristo. Dios se niega a dejarnos como somos. En cambio, como el que estaba sentado en el trono dijo: “Yo hago nuevas todas las cosas.”

All Because He Loves You — Easter Vigil

April 2, 2013

As human beings, our knowledge and motivations are limited.

Jesus Christ, however, is human and divine.

He is the eternal second person of the Trinity.

His knowledge is unlimited and his motivations are countless.

And so, truly and amazingly, Jesus Christ has known you and loved you since before time began.

 

In the beginning of creation, Jesus foreknew you and loved you.

He calls the Patriarchs in ancient times; in part, because he loves you.

He frees the Hebrews from slavery, because he loves you.

He settles them in the Promised Land, because he loves you.

He establishes David’s kingdom, because he loves you.

He commissions the prophets, because he loves you.

 

In the fullness of times, he becomes man, because he loves you.

He ministers and preaches on earth, because he loves you.

He is rejected, because he loves you.

He is whipped, because he loves you.

He is crucified, because he loves you.

He suffers and dies, because he loves you.

On third day, he resurrects and conquers death, because he loves you.

 

In more recent times, he gives you life in your mother’s womb, because he loves you.

He grants you countless blessings, because he loves you.

He encounters you in his Catholic Church, because he loves you.

He baptizes you as the Father’s child, because he loves you.

He confirms you as the Spirit’s coworker, because he loves you.

He incorporates you as a member of his body, because he loves you.

 

You are blessed in more ways than you can count because of him.

You are here today because of Jesus Christ.

You are here on Easter because you love Jesus Christ but, more importantly, because he loves you.

 

 

Como seres humanos, nuestros conocimientos y motivaciones son limitados.

Jesucristo, sin embargo, es humano y divino.

Él es la segunda persona de la Trinidad.

Su conocimiento y sus motivos son ilimitadas.

Verdaderamente, y sorprendentemente, Jesucristo te conoce y te ama desde antes de los siglos.

 

En el principio de la creación, Jesús te preconoce y te ama.

Él llama a los Patriarcas en la antigüedad, en parte, porque él te ama.

Él libera a los hebreos de la esclavitud, porque él te ama.

Él les instala en la tierra prometida, porque él te ama.

Él establece el reino de David, porque él te ama.

Él comisiona a los profetas, porque él te ama.

 

En la plenitud de los tiempos, se convierte en el hombre, porque él te ama.

Él ministra y predica en la tierra, porque Él te ama.

Él es rechazado, porque él te ama.

Él es azotado, porque él te ama.

Él es crucificado, porque él te ama.

Él sufre y muere, porque él te ama.

En el tercer día, él vence la muerte, porque él te ama.

 

En nuestro tiempo, él te da la vida en el vientre de tu madre, porque él te ama.

Él le concede innumerables bendiciones, porque él te ama.

Él le encuentra en su Iglesia Católica, porque él te ama.

Él le bautiza como un hijo del Padre, porque él te ama.

Él le confirme como compañero de trabajo del Espíritu, porque él te ama.

Él le incorpora como miembro de su cuerpo, porque él te ama.

 

Eres bendecido de muchas maneras que usted puede contar por su culpa.

Estas aquí hoy debido a Jesucristo.

Estas aquí en la Pascua porque amas a Jesús Cristo, sino, más importante aún, porque él te ama.