Thursday, December 31, 2009

Let's Not Become Spiritually Sluggish in the New Year

As the year comes to a close, let us dwell on not of the things of this world but rather of a "spiritual new year," striving to move closer to the love of Christ everyday and in all we do.

"Therefore, let us leave behind the basic teaching about Christ and advance to maturity, without laying the foundation all over again. We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises."
"Human beings swear by someone greater than themselves; for them an oath serves as a guarantee and puts an end to all argument. So when God wanted to give the heirs of his promise an even clearer demonstration of the immutability of his purpose, he intervened with an oath, so that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to hold fast to the hope that lies before us. This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil, where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." Hebrews 6: 1, 11-12, 16-20

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

1 John 2: 15-17 Whoever Does the Will of God Remains Forever

From the John's 1st Letter with my commentary in bold:
not love the world or the things of the world. (they are not important)

If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (it is your free choice)

For all that is in the world, (and the Evil One has much to entice you with) sensual lust-Sensual lust: literally, "the lust of the flesh," inordinate desire for physical gratification, (self indulgence and sexual gratification may be your personal business but it is also your choice) enticement for the eyes -Enticement for the eyes: literally, "the lust of the eyes," avarice or covetousness; the eyes are regarded as the windows of the soul. (seeking gratification through material consumption - for where your treasures is there your heart will be also) , and a pretentious life-Pretentious life: literally, "pride of life," arrogance or ostentation in one's earthly style of life that reflects a willful independence from God and others. (self reliance, living without God in your life, your life is about you) is not from the Father (He desires you obey His will) but is from the world. (The Evil One's workshop)

Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. (all the promises of this world lead to eventual death) But whoever does the will of God remains forever. ( God promises us eternal life; eye has not seen, ear not heard nor has the mind imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.) 1 John 2:15-17

The Mass - Where Heaven and Earth Come Together

"The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life."

"The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch."

"The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God's action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit."

Finally, by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all.

In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: "Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking." The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1322-1327)

If Jesus is the reason we exist then it stands to reason that the Mass and the Eucharist has to be the central focus of our existence. Yet we find that this is not the case for many Catholics, particularly the young Catholics. It is my contention that there are several reasons for this: a) poor catechesis - a loss of the Sacredness of the Eucharist and the True Presence. There was for a time religious educators and even some priests who were suggesting that the Real Presence was secondary to the "unity of the faithful in worship." This was evidenced by polling Catholics of which the majority did not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. b) the trend of building drab, modern "Protestant-like" Churches devoid of art and statues. If a church is to be the temple "where we are united in the heavenly liturgy" then it is logical that it be a special place that lifts the heart & mind towards heaven. If Jesus Christ the Savior of the world is present: Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity, then Heaven is present on earth. This is not the mundane or banal of every day life that is demonstrated in the plain, ordinary buildings that many worship in. c) liturgical abuses - this ranges from the absurd such as liturgical dancers to priests that change the words of prayers and scripture readings to bad music, not only the songs, but the melodies and singers themselves. Music in most churches today is an attempt to imitate secular music, it is not beautiful and uplifting. d) poor preaching and lack of good instruction by priests. A good homily that ties the just heard scripture readings to the Catholicity of our of our universe can inspire remind us why we are there.

In Sacrementum Caritas Pope Benedict XVI writes

This relationship between creed and worship is evidenced in a particular way by the rich theological and liturgical category of beauty. Like the rest of Christian Revelation, the liturgy is inherently linked to beauty: it is veritatis splendor. The liturgy is a radiant expression of the paschal mystery, in which Christ draws us to himself and calls us to communion. As Saint Bonaventure would say, in Jesus we contemplate beauty and splendour at their source. (106) This is no mere aestheticism, but the concrete way in which the truth of God's love in Christ encounters us, attracts us and delights us, enabling us to emerge from ourselves and drawing us towards our true vocation, which is love. (107) God allows himself to be glimpsed first in creation, in the beauty and harmony of the cosmos (cf. Wis 13:5; Rom 1:19- 20).

When we reduce the liturgy to the ordinary, strip the churches of their beauty, replace sacred music with ugly pop music, make the priority of the Mass out to be the "gathering" instead of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, fail to instruct and inspire the people, the results are the Mass is nothing special and the main focus will become "when does this end so I can get on with more important things", thus the people glance at their watches repeatedly waiting for the one hour to come.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Jesus - The Reason We Exist

When I was a young boy growing up, I attended St. Joseph's Elementary School where I was taught by the Holy Union Sisters. The Sisters had all the wonderful attributes of the religious, they were kind, generous, thoughtful, intelligent, and devout in the love for Christ. Catholicism encompassed most nearly every thing in my life. I was an altar boy and I loved the liturgy and the priesthood. We were taught from the old Baltimore Catechism and I can recall these words over and over: Why were you born? To know, love, and serve God in this life so as to spend eternity with Him in the next. The Church has wisely developed a better catechism, that encompasses a much deeper understanding. If you have not read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, go purchase a copy, it is a marvelous reading, and will greatly assist in understanding your faith. As I have grown older I have come to appreciate what the the sisters taught me. I have written many times in this blog the fact that "your life is not about you." I firmly believe that Catholicism is the best way to live your life universally as a Christian. Christianity is not, and I repeat, not a competing philosophy or way of living. To many it looks likes a another way of living albeit, a silly or difficult way. The reason is because the divided and fragmented form of Christianity has blended in with secular thinking. Its menu of beliefs that one can hand pick, appears as a competing philosophy of life, like a new age philosophy or Wiccans. The Catholic faith lived as it should be encompasses everything in your life. All wisdom in the universe originates from God. We seek the truth and the Truth is a person: Jesus Christ. The modern world has spent a great deal of time and thought diminishing God. It has also attempted to define and compartmentalize Jesus, making Him out to be some kind of guru or philosopher, a nice guy with some good and practical ideas. Here is what St. Paul thought about Jesus Christ:
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross (through him), whether those on earth or those in heaven."

We were created for Him. That is the purpose of your life, so the truth is your life is not about you.

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

You cannot lose your life by following the values of the secular world. You cannot take Christ and divide Him into palatable pieces, not if you truly desire to follow Him.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Jesus Identifies with the Holy Innoncents - Jean Vanier

Jesus identification with the poor remains one of the greatest and most incomprehensible mysteries of the Gospels. How can God who is all powerful, all beautiful, and all glorious becomes so powerless, so little, so weak? The logic of love is different from the logic of reason and power. When you love someone you use her language to be close to her. When you love a child , you speak and play with him as a child. That is how God relates to us. God becomes little so that we will not be frightened of Him, so that we can enter into the heart-to-heart relationship of love and communion.

The Word became flesh to reveal what s most precious in each one of us: our hearts, our thirst to be loved and our capacity to love, be kind and compassionate and give life to others.What is most important is not our knowledge or influence, but love hidden in our hearts, which permits us to use our knowledge and gifts to serve others, to give life and to build faithful covenant relationships. That is why Jesus identifies himself with the weak who cry out their need for love and hwo call people together in communion. The mystery is that our God is a hidden God. Our God is not a God of rules, regulations, and obligations, or a master teacher who wants to impose a path of salvation. Our God is a God of love and communion, a heart yearning to communicate to another heart the joy, the ecstasy of love, and communion that exists between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier is the founder of L'Arche, an international network of communities of the mentally disabled.

The Slaughter of the Innocents Continues Today

And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star,on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of old, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way. When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him."Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, "Out of Egypt I called my son."When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: "A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more." Matthew 2:9-10, 16-18

There have always been those who have attempted to thwart the plans of God, through evil means. In the Book of Exodus 1:22 we read that Pharaoh then commanded all his subjects, "Throw into the river every boy that is born to the Hebrews, but you may let all the girls live." Throughout history attempts have been made to destroy cultures, from killing children, to raping women, to mass extermination. This is a battle that Satan has waged against God throughout the ages, evidence by the vile and disgusting cruelty by which it occurs. The battle has taken a new course in our modern times: abortion. It is insidious in how it has been accepted in our culture. All the major religions of the world, Christianity, Judaism and Islam all respect life and reject abortion, yet many people ignore even their faith and see this practice as a right. The death of a human fetus is no different than what Herod did and the slaughter of the Innocents continues today.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI on Family

The first form of communion between persons is that born of the love of a man and a woman who decide to enter a stable union in order to build together a new family. But the peoples of the earth, too, are called to build relationships of solidarity and cooperation among themselves, as befits members of the one human family: “All peoples are one community and have one origin, because God caused the whole human race to dwell on the face of the earth (cf. Acts 17:26); they also have one final end, God.”he natural family, as an intimate communion of life and love, based on marriage between a man and a woman, constitutes “the primary place of ‘humanization' for the person and society” and a “cradle of life and love”. The family is therefore rightly defined as the first natural society, “a divine institution that stands at the foundation of life of the human person as the prototype of every social order” Indeed, in a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them. For this reason, the family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace. It is no wonder, therefore, that violence, if perpetrated in the family, is seen as particularly intolerable. Consequently, when it is said that the family is “the primary living cell of society” something essential is being stated. The family is the foundation of society for this reason too: because it enables its members in decisive ways to experience peace. It follows that the human community cannot do without the service provided by the family. Where can young people gradually learn to savour the genuine “taste” of peace better than in the original “nest” which nature prepares for them? The language of the family is a language of peace; we must always draw from it, lest we lose the “vocabulary” of peace. In the inflation of its speech, society cannot cease to refer to that “grammar” which all children learn from the looks and the actions of their mothers and fathers, even before they learn from their word. Thr family is also a school wnich enables men and women to grow to the full measure of their humanity....O God, who in the Holy family, left us a perfect model of family life in faith and obedience to your will , help us to be examples of faith and love for your commandments.

God's Holy Family

The family is the most sacred unit of humanity. God chose the family as the place where he would unite God with man, where Divinity would bond with humanity, were the Creator would dwell with the created. The human family is a prototype of the Divine Family. God the Father is loving his Son, Jesus the Beloved and all united through the Holy Spirit, in a beautiful yet mysterious way in harmony and perfection. The Holy Family; Joseph, Mary & Jesus are the epitome of love and obedience, Joseph quietly allows the salvation mystery unfold before his eyes, his love for Mary, strengthened through God's grace enables him to not to react in a strictly human perspective, seeing only the narrow picture interpreted through the law. He takes Mary as his bride and is obedient to the mystery. Mary hears the news from the angel Gabriel and is at first struck with fear, but obediently gives her Magnificat as "the hand maiden of the Lord." Jesus comes to do the will of the Father, yet is obedient to Joseph and Mary living in his new found family. Family is the source of true human love and understanding. Family is where the bond of trust and faith begins from day one and grows knitting each member together. It is where we endure all our faults, mistakes, misgivings, united in the strength of love, confident that each will be there for one another. The Evil One recognizes this fact and throughout modern times has convinced society that the family is not necessary, using means to isolate, break down, redefine and destroy its very moral fabric. The 20th Century was the testing grounds for re-engineering the family, through death and destruction, and has left the world in a pathetic state. Just check the birth rates in Europe, where societies and cultures will be gone in a matter of a generation or two. Birth control and abortion are Satan's weapons against the family. Remember this though, God will always honor and protect family, no matter what assaults take place. He rests in family as Jesus rested in the arms of Mary and Joseph.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

St. Stephen - Christianity's First Martyr

Today one day after the birth of our Savior, the Church honors its first martyr. Stephen was first chosen as a deacon as we read in Acts:

"At that time, as the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.
So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said, "It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table.

Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom, whom we shall appoint to this task, whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."

The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism.

They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them. The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.

Now Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Acts of the Apostles 6:1-8

Later Stephen is preaching:

"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors.

Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it."

When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him.

But he, filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."

But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together.
They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. (later to become St. Paul and martyred himself)

As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them"; and when he said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:51-60


Whenever there is a special occasion, the birth of a child, a wedding, graduation, or even a funeral, when end of the day eventually comes, there is that pause where one reflects on the significance of the event. It is here where each emotion is grasped and carefully placed into perspective relative to time, either to past events being summoned from memories or to the imagination of the future. One is not so much seeking answers here, but rather what it is really about, is questions. It matters not the time or place questions are always present in the foreground, veiled in mystery, often they are ignored, but they exist. The philosopher is always seeking to get your attention and focus on these questions. GK Chesterton once wrote “Philosophy is not the concern of those who pass through Divinity and Greats, but of those who pass through birth and death. Nearly all the more awful and abstruse statements can be put in words of one syllable, from ‘A child is born’ to ‘A soul is damned.’ If the ordinary man may not discuss existence, why should he be asked to conduct it?” The Philosopher: George Bernard Shaw (1910). The time comes at Christmas, after the last desert is eaten, and there are no more packages under the tree, family and visitors have driven away in the cold December night, when we begin to ask those questions. It is precisely at this time the void between the excitement or anxiety and the stillness and solitude of another day coming to an end that we ponder about, the virgin Mother and a little Child born in a stable, or of angels announcing His glorious arrival. Man desires to know and is compelled to ask questions. This is not so obvious because our secular society has declared that the game is over, truth is an unknown commodity, or at the very least exists as miniature truths scattered about. Yet from the beginning of the story of man, life has been about questions: "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" or a young Jewish virgin pondered her role in salvation history; "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man? to when Pilate said to Jesus, "What is truth?" I guess what I am trying to say is that it seems most of the time we live life in a kind of stupor, a state of sleepiness, ignoring what Jesus advised us to "stay awake" Either we are trapped in the anxieties of living in the modern world or we have bought into its dead philosophy. It is in asking the questions that we truly live: Who is God? How can I get to know and understand Him? What is my life about in relation to all this? Be not afraid, for the the Truth is waiting to hear from you.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Urbi et Orbi Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world, and all men and women, whom the Lord loves!

“Lux fulgebit hodie super nos,
quia natus est nobis Dominus.
A light will shine on us this day,
the Lord is born for us”
(Roman Missal, Christmas, Entrance Antiphon for the Mass at Dawn)

The liturgy of the Mass at Dawn reminded us that the night is now past, the day has begun; the light radiating from the cave of Bethlehem shines upon us.

The Bible and the Liturgy do not, however, speak to us about a natural light, but a different, special light, which is somehow directed to and focused upon “us”, the same “us” for whom the Child of Bethlehem “is born”. This “us” is the Church, the great universal family of those who believe in Christ, who have awaited in hope the new birth of the Saviour, and who today celebrate in mystery the perennial significance of this event.

At first, beside the manger in Bethlehem, that “us” was almost imperceptible to human eyes. As the Gospel of Saint Luke recounts, it included, in addition to Mary and Joseph, a few lowly shepherds who came to the cave after hearing the message of the Angels. The light of that first Christmas was like a fire kindled in the night. All about there was darkness, while in the cave there shone the true light “that enlightens every man” (Jn 1:9). And yet all this took place in simplicity and hiddenness, in the way that God works in all of salvation history. God loves to light little lights, so as then to illuminate vast spaces. Truth, and Love, which are its content, are kindled wherever the light is welcomed; they then radiate in concentric circles, as if by contact, in the hearts and minds of all those who, by opening themselves freely to its splendour, themselves become sources of light. Such is the history of the Church: she began her journey in the lowly cave of Bethlehem, and down the centuries she has become a People and a source of light for humanity. Today too, in those who encounter that Child, God still kindles fires in the night of the world, calling men and women everywhere to acknowledge in Jesus the “sign” of his saving and liberating presence and to extend the “us” of those who believe in Christ to the whole of mankind.

Wherever there is an “us” which welcomes God’s love, there the light of Christ shines forth, even in the most difficult situations. The Church, like the Virgin Mary, offers the world Jesus, the Son, whom she herself has received as a gift, the One who came to set mankind free from the slavery of sin. Like Mary, the Church does not fear, for that Child is her strength. But she does not keep him for herself: she offers him to all those who seek him with a sincere heart, to the earth’s lowly and afflicted, to the victims of violence, and to all who yearn for peace. Today too, on behalf of a human family profoundly affected by a grave financial crisis, yet even more by a moral crisis, and by the painful wounds of wars and conflicts, the Church, in faithful solidarity with mankind, repeats with the shepherds: “Let us go to Bethlehem” (Lk 2:15), for there we shall find our hope.

The “us” of the Church is alive in the place where Jesus was born, in the Holy Land, inviting its people to abandon every logic of violence and vengeance, and to engage with renewed vigour and generosity in the process which leads to peaceful coexistence. The “us” of the Church is present in the other countries of the Middle East. How can we forget the troubled situation in Iraq and the “little flock” of Christians which lives in the region? At times it is subject to violence and injustice, but it remains determined to make its own contribution to the building of a society opposed to the logic of conflict and the rejection of one’s neighbour. The “us” of the Church is active in Sri Lanka, in the Korean peninsula and in the Philippines, as well as in the other countries of Asia, as a leaven of reconciliation and peace. On the continent of Africa she does not cease to lift her voice to God, imploring an end to every injustice in the Democratic Republic of Congo; she invites the citizens of Guinea and Niger to respect for the rights of every person and to dialogue; she begs those of Madagascar to overcome their internal divisions and to be mutually accepting; and she reminds all men and women that they are called to hope, despite the tragedies, trials and difficulties which still afflict them. In Europe and North America, the “us” of the Church urges people to leave behind the selfish and technicist mentality, to advance the common good and to show respect for the persons who are most defenceless, starting with the unborn. In Honduras she is assisting in process of rebuilding institutions; throughout Latin America, the “us” of the Church is a source of identity, a fullness of truth and of charity which no ideology can replace, a summons to respect for the inalienable rights of each person and his or her integral development, a proclamation of justice and fraternity, a source of unity.

In fidelity to the mandate of her Founder, the Church shows solidarity with the victims of natural disasters and poverty, even within opulent societies. In the face of the exodus of all those who migrate from their homelands and are driven away by hunger, intolerance or environmental degradation, the Church is a presence calling others to an attitude of acceptance and welcome. In a word, the Church everywhere proclaims the Gospel of Christ, despite persecutions, discriminations, attacks and at times hostile indifference. These, in fact, enable her to share the lot of her Master and Lord.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, how great a gift it is to be part of a communion which is open to everyone! It is the communion of the Most Holy Trinity, from whose heart Emmanuel, Jesus, “God with us”, came into the world. Like the sh

The Christmas Light that Overcomes the Darkness in Your Life

A Blessed, Holy, & Merry Christmas to all of you. The words of the first chapter of the Gospel of John to me are the most beautiful verses ever written. Take a moment and read them slowly. Jesus is the light that overcomes all darkness, no matter what that darkness is in your life. Though we bear gifts to one another and the wise men came bearing gifts, it is Christ who brings the the true gift of eternal life. As John says He gave us the power to become children of God, not by anything we do but by the enormity of His love. Although He was not recognized or accepted by even His own creation, and still to this day that is the case, we have the opportunity to better know Him and to grow in love everyday. Let us all see His glory, for today the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.

What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man's decision but of God.

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Priests- O Holy Night

O Come All Ye Faithful

The Glory of the Lord

Do You Hear What I Hear

Joy to the World

Angels We Have Heard on High

Glory to God

Watch EWTN today for Solemn Mass with Pope Benedict

Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord: Mass with the Holy Father from St. Peter’s Basilica.
Thu 12/24/09 4:00 PM ET / 3:00 PM/ CENTRAL TIME/ 1 PM PT - LIVE

For Unto Us a Child is Born

For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, From David's throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains By judgment and justice, both now and forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this! Isaiah 9:5-6

Singing Glory to God in the Highest

The First Noel

A Christmas Carol Poem by G. K. Chesterton

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)

The Christ-child stood on Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

O Tannenbaum - The Great Nat King Cole

St. Athanasius on the Incarnation

It was unthinkable that God, the Father of Truth, should go back upon His word regarding death in order to ensure our continued existence. He could not falsify Himself; what, then, was God to do? Was He to demand repentance from men for their transgression? You might say that that was worthy of God, and argue further that, as through the Transgression they became subject to corruption, so through repentance they might return to incorruption again. But repentance would not guard the Divine consistency, for, if death did not hold dominion over men, God would still remain untrue. Nor does repentance recall men from what is according to their nature; all that it does is to make them cease from sinning. Had it been a case of a trespass only, and not of a subsequent corruption, repentance would have been well enough; but when once transgression had begun men came under the power of the corruption proper to their nature and were bereft of the grace which belonged to them as creatures in the Image of God. No, repentance could not meet the case. What—or rather Who was it that was needed for such grace and such recall as we required? Who, save the Word of God Himself, Who also in the beginning had made all things out of nothing? His part it was, and His alone, both to bring again the corruptible to incorruption and to maintain for the Father His consistency of character with all. For He alone, being Word of the Father and above all, was in consequence both able to recreate all, and worthy to suffer on behalf of all and to be an ambassador for all with the Father.
    For this purpose, then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God entered our world. In one sense, indeed, He was not far from it before, for no part of creation had ever been without Him Who, while ever abiding in union with the Father, yet fills all things that are. But now He entered the world in a new way, stooping to our level in His love and Self-revealing to us. He saw the reasonable race, the race of men that, like Himself, expressed the Father's Mind, wasting out of existence, and death reigning over all in corruption. He saw that corruption held us all the closer, because it was the penalty for the Transgression; He saw, too, how unthinkable it would be for the law to be repealed before it was fulfilled. He saw how unseemly it was that the very things of which He Himself was the Artificer should be disappearing. He saw how the surpassing wickedness of men was mounting up against them; He saw also their universal liability to death. All this He saw and, pitying our race, moved with compassion for our limitation, unable to endure that death should have the mastery, rather than that His creatures should perish and the work of His Father for us men come to nought, He took to Himself a body, a human body even as our own. Nor did He will merely to become embodied or merely to appear; had that been so, He could have revealed His divine majesty in some other and better way. No, He took our body, and not only so, but He took it directly from a spotless, stainless virgin, without the agency of human father—a pure body, untainted by intercourse with man. He, the Mighty One, the Artificer of all, Himself prepared this body in the virgin as a temple for Himself, and took it for His very own, as the instrument through which He was known and in which He dwelt. Thus, taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to the corruption of death, He surrendered His body to death instead of all, and offered it to the Father. This He did out of sheer love for us, so that in His death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled in His body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men. This He did that He might turn again to incorruption men who had turned back to corruption, and make them alive through death by the appropriation of His body and by the grace of His resurrection. Thus He would make death to disappear from them as utterly as straw from fire.
    The Word perceived that corruption could not be got rid of otherwise than through death; yet He Himself, as the Word, being immortal and the Father's Son, was such as could not die. For this reason, therefore, He assumed a body capable of death, in order that it, through belonging to the Word Who is above all, might become in dying a sufficient exchange for all, and, itself remaining incorruptible through His indwelling, might thereafter put an end to corruption for all others as well, by the grace of the resurrection. It was by surrendering to death the body which He had taken, as an offering and sacrifice free from every stain, that He forthwith ab
olished death for His human brethren by the offering of the equivalent. For naturally, since the Word of God was above all, when He offered His own temple and bodily instrument as a substitute for the life of all, He fulfilled in death all that was required. Naturally also, through this union of the immortal Son of God with our human nature, all men were clothed with incorruption in the promise of the resurrection. For the solidarity of mankind is such that, by virtue of the Word's indwelling in a single human body, the corruption which goes with death has lost its power over all. St. Athanasius

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Take Hold of the Christ Child

On one particularly memorable Christmas Eve in the French village of Ars, the parish priest Saint John Marie Vianney (1786-1859), the "Cure of Ars" was seen to be deeply moved during midnight Mass as he held the consecrated host over the chalice. Gazing at the Eucharist, his lips moved in silent prayer, and tears ran down his face, alternating with smiles. The cure' had to remain in this posture for sometime as he awaited the completion of a long hymn. When afterward his sacristan apologized to him for this delay, he replied, "Oh, I did not find the time long." Upon being asked what he was doing as he held the host, he answered that he had prayed to Christ in the Eucharist, "If I knew that I should have the misfortune to be deprived of seeing you throughout all eternity, now that I hold you in my hand I should never let you go." This Christmas, let us all take the Christ child into our hearts and never lt him go, that we may gaze upon him forever. (courtesy of James Monti, editor for the saints of the Magnificat)

Monday, December 21, 2009

St. Peter Canisius, SJ

St. Peter Canisius, SJ (1521–1597) Doctor of the Church

For a half-century Jesuit Father Peter Canisius led the Catholic Reformation in Austria, Bavaria, and Bohemia. For that reason he is reckoned an apostle to Germany, second only to St. Boniface. With stupendous energy he preached and taught in parishes, reformed and founded universities, wrote many books including popular catechisms, restored lapsed Catholics, converted Protestants, preached retreats, and found time to care for the sick. In his last thirty years traveling more than twenty thousand miles on foot or horseback, St. Peter Canisius spearheaded the renewal of the Catholic faith in southern Germany.

Peter Canisius revitalized Catholic life and teaching at universities in Ingolstadt and Augsburg. He founded new ones at Prague and Fribourg. In all four cities his preaching and catechizing won the hearts of Catholics and attracted nominal Protestants to the church. In Vienna his personal care for plague victims made him a most popular figure. Thus, when appointed diocesan administrator, he was in a position to revive the city’s long decadent Catholic community.

After 1555, Peter Canisius published his famous Summary of Christian Doctrine and two smaller catechisms. These books generated the Catholic Reformation as Luther’s catechism had spread Protestantism. Canisius’s catechisms also helped launch the Catholic press. During the saint’s lifetime they were translated into fifteen languages and reprinted more than two hundred times.

In the late sixteenth century, when open hostility typified relations between Catholics and Protestants, Peter Canisius advised charity and moderation. He opposed theological debates with Protestant leaders and, in general, discouraged discussion of Catholic distinctives such as indulgences, purgatory, and monastic vows with Protestants. He believed such efforts only heightened division and embittered relations. He articulated his views in this letter to his Jesuit superior:

It is plainly wrong to meet non-Catholics with bitterness or to treat them with discourtesy. For this is nothing else than the reverse of Christ’s example because it breaks the bruised reed and quenches the smoking flax. We ought to instruct with meekness those whom heresy has made bitter and suspicious, and has estranged from orthodox Catholics, especially from our fellow Jesuits. Thus, by whole-hearted charity and good will we may win them over to us in the Lord.

Again, it is a mistaken policy to behave in a contentious fashion and to start disputes about matters of belief with argumentative people who are disposed by their very natures to wrangling. Indeed, the fact of their being so constituted is a reason the more why such people should be attracted and won to the simplicity of the faith as much by example as by argument.

In 1591, Peter Canisius suffered a stroke that nearly killed him. But he recovered and devoted himself to writing for six more years until his death in 1597.

Let my eyes take their sleep, but may my heart always keep watch for you. May your right hand bless your servants who love you.

May I be united with the praise that flows from you, Lord Jesus, to all your saints; united with the gratitude drawn from your heart, good Jesus, that causes your saints to thank you; united with your passion, good Jesus, by which you took away our guilt; united with the divine longing that you had on earth for our salvation; united with every prayer that welled from your divine heart, good Jesus, and flowed into the hearts of your saints.

—Peter Canisius (courtesy of

True Gospel

"I went up in accord with a revelation, and I presented to them the gospel that I preach to the Gentiles--but privately to those of repute--so that I might not be running, or have run, in vain." Galatians Chapter 2 Verse 2

What is going on here? Lets trace back to Saul on his way to Damascus. You know the story, he is struck down from his horse and God speaks to him. Does anybody doubt that Saul is receiving Divine Revelation? He then goes through his remarkable conversion, becomes Paul and he begins his mission to bring the message of Christ first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. He writes that he went to Arabia, then Damascus, then after 3 years He goes to Jerusalem and meets with Peter, then he went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia and after 14 years he heads to Jerusalem again with Barnabas. Then he writes that he preaches the Gospel privately to those of repute! What is going on here?!!? Do you mean that St. Paul who has received Divine Revelation from the mouth of God has to check with the Apostles to ensure it's accuracy? Though divinely instructed to preach and go to Jerusalem Paul deems it necessary to check with the experts. At issue was a Gentile, Titus, and the question of circumcision, which false brothers (Gal 2:4) evidently demanded for him. Paul insists that the gospel he preaches (Gal 2:2; cf Gal 1:9, 11) remained intact with no addition by those of repute (Gal 2:6); that Titus was not compelled to accept circumcision (Gal 2:3); and that he and the reputed pillars in Jerusalem agreed on how each would advance the missionary task (Gal 1:7-10). The truth is that even for St. Paul the Church, the Apostolic Church was both revered and acknowledged as the authority. The point is that we have people running around today preaching that they have received "divine revelation" from the Holy Spirit, yet they believe that this is true and authentic without having any authority to confirm whether the message has any validity. That goes also of course for Sacred Scripture.

Gloria Dei vivens homo

The glory of God is man fully alive.” – St. Irenaeus
I heard this quote from this great Early Church Father several weeks ago and have thought about it for a bit. Here are my thoughts on it: human beings are God's creation, we are comprised of both matter, our physical body, and spirit, our eternal soul. To function fully as a human being we must be living both physically in sound body and mind and spiritually as faithful members of the Mystical Body of Christ. When Jesus came as the Word and dwelt among us, His desire was to do His Father's will and give glory to Him. In becoming man He united the creation with the Creator, thus elevating mankind with the ability to participate in the Divine. Our Catholic faith gives us the greatest opportunity through our sacramental life, through the forgiveness of sins and partaking in the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, to live more fully alive and in doing so give Glory and Honor to God the Father. That is why two things are necessary, first that Christ is always at the center of your being and second that your faith is the perspective by which you live each and every day, to love one another, striving for holiness, serving those who are in need, forgiving those who have wronged us and seeking God's mercy for our sinfullness, doing what is good and righteous and refusing to participate in the things of the world that are contrary to God's commandments.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

All Ages Do Call Her Blesssed

During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah,where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit,cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."

And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;my spirit rejoices in God my savior.For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
This passage from the 1st Chapter of Luke's Gospel has always been one of my favorites. This Chapter is as Catholic as it could be. First it parallels Mary with Elizabeth, both pregnant from the Power of the Most High. It reinforces the fact that God is here to bring new life to a barren world; the barren Elizabeth to bring forth John the Baptist, who would proclaim the coming of the Christ and Mary the virgin, who would through her faithfulness bring Jesus the Messiah into the world. Elizabeth proclaims, "And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" a title that somehow eludes Bible toting Protestants even to this day. When we hear Elizabeth say "For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. There is an interesting Biblical insight that is present here. In 2 Samuel 6, after David decides to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem we read "As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Saul's daughter Michal looked down through the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, and she despised him in her heart." Both Arks - the (old) Ark of the Covenant and the (new -Mary) Ark of the Covenant are good reasons to leap with joy and reasons to be despised, (Herod, the High Priests, Pontious Pilate). Finally Mary's beautiful Magnificat: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;my spirit rejoices in God my savior." and as we Catholics for all the ages have been doing "from now on will all ages call me blessed." The message here is that we as Christians are to reach out (as Mary did to Elizabeth) and carry the Word of God (present in Mary's womb) to others.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom

All wisdom comes from the LORD and with him it remains forever.
The sand of the seashore, the drops of rain, the days of eternity: who can number these? Heaven's height, earth's breadth, the depths of the abyss: who can explore these?
Before all things else wisdom was created; and prudent understanding, from eternity.

To whom has wisdom's root been revealed? Who knows her subtleties?
There is but one, wise and truly awe-inspiring, seated upon his throne:
It is the LORD; he created her, has seen her and taken note of her.
He has poured her forth upon all his works, upon every living thing according to his bounty; he has lavished her upon his friends.

Fear of the LORD is glory and splendor, gladness and a festive crown.
Fear of the LORD warms the heart, giving gladness and joy and length of days.
He who fears the LORD will have a happy end; even on the day of his death he will be blessed.

The beginning of wisdom is fear of the LORD, which is formed with the faithful in the womb.
The above passages comes from a man named Jesus. But not Jesus Christ, the Book of Sirach derives its name from the author, Jesus, son of Eleazar, son of Sirach (Sirach 50:27). Its earliest title seems to have been "Wisdom of the Son of Sirach." The designation "Liber Ecclesiasticus," meaning "Church Book," appended to some Greek and Latin manuscripts was due to the extensive use which the church made of this book in presenting moral teaching to catechumens and to the faithful.

The author, a sage who lived in Jerusalem, was thoroughly imbued with love for the law, the priesthood, the temple, and divine worship. As a wise and experienced observer of life he addressed himself to his contemporaries with the motive of helping them to maintain religious faith and integrity through study of the holy books, and through tradition.

The secular world rejects Jesus and thus rejects wisdom. The secular world rejects wisdom and thus rejects Jesus. In my 50+ years on this planet I have seen a slide towards mediocrity that borders on absurd. Children can be educated through high school and college without having read any books on classical thought, philosophy, literature, or have an ounce of comprehension of sacred art, architecture, liturgy, or music. Worship has been reduced to either an empty modern church which resembles a Pizza Hut with nothing that remotely resembles the heavenly temple that it is suppose to, or it has become a polished techno-production with large videos, track lighting, stages with audio enhanced sound systems. I was watching a blip on some news program about a group of Mormon women who were putting out a "sexy" calendar for 2010, there was criticism about it to which several women responded " I don't have a problem with God." My first thought was that perhaps maybe, God has a problem with you. We have turned things into a convoluted understanding of whom God is and our relationship towards Him. Our life is to be ordered around God not vice versa. We have lost the pursuit of wisdom because we no longer fear God. Make no mistake future generations will pay a price for ignoring Wisdom.

A Love For Wisdom

Friday, December 18, 2009

He Shall Purify

God Does Not Make Mistakes

Why do you suppose that it was necessary for God to become man, to come in to a family, to come into poverty, to be powerless, to hand select his close circle of followers, and to ask that we "do this in memory of me" Luke 22:19? If you search the Old Testament you will find that God revealed His plan to the prophets, many years before, in fact He gives us a hint about it right from the Book of Genesis, when He declares to the serpent "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel." God's plan is the best plan, could we all agree upon that? God does not make mistakes, His plans don't go awry. Man on the other hand is constantly making mistakes, from blurting out God and denying His existence to personal interpretations of Scripture that can justify or explain anything. God does exist and He knows far better what is going on than we do. C.S. Lewis wrote " A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." God became a physical man, died a physical man, and resurrected as a physical man because we human beings comprehend and relate in a physical tangible way. That is precisely why He instituted a physical Church with physical means of attaining His grace - the Sacraments. God does not make mistakes. The disciples of Christ as well as the Early Church Fathers knew precisely that Jesus was present in the consecrated bread and wine when they worshiped, at most times in hiding, fear of being caught and killed. God entered the world in a family because the family is the most sacred and holiest structure of human beings. God did not come to earth as a gang member, or a homosexual couple, or a member of a secret society or as a renegade, rugged, individual calling His own shots. God does not make mistakes. He is in essence what family is about; the loving Son of the Father, united in love with and through the Holy Spirit. God became a powerless tiny infant, requiring care to survive so He could teach us all that our lives are not about us. The greatest act of humility is God becoming a baby. Jesus chose His disciples because He knew it would be necessary for human beings to learn from other human beings (not a book, Jesus never wrote anything down as far as we know). These human beings ate, drank, slept, with Jesus for a three year period. They shared His close secrets, received individual one on one instruction, watched as He performed miracles, listened to Him preach, certainly they did more stuff over that time with Jesus than is recorded in the Bible. John says in Chapter 21:25 "There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written." This statement alone should make you wonder if "sola scriptura" isn't kind of an odd way of following Jesus and His teachings. God does not make mistakes. Finally Jesus said "do this in memory of me." This was Jesus speaking, the Son of the Father, the second person of the Trinity. He knew what He meant and so did his disciples. These are not frivolous words that were meant that once a month we break out some grape juice and crackers and have a toast to His memory. God does not make mistakes. The single greatest problem in the world is that human beings, who are made in the image and likeness of God, diminish God, like C.S. Lewis' lunatic, choosing Satan and his empty promises over God. The Evil One is good at what he does. He uses man's physical nature too, with promises of the trilogy for the fallen, sex, power and money. His appeal is with visible physical tangible things to the pleasures of man and woman. That is the opposite of the sacramental life which is physical in nature but is hidden in the mystery of God. God became man in the form of a baby so He could conquer evil and death in a visible physical nature. God does not make mistakes.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christ Came in Poverty to Teach Us Humility

Allow me to tell you about what true joy is. These four beautiful children live in poverty in various places on this planet. I have been graced by God to have the ability to contribute in a small way economically to their lives. Every now and then I receive a card or a note from one of them. Invariably it comes at a time when I am struggling with one thing or another. They always express immense gratitude for simple things like shoes, rice, or a blanket and ask God to bestow His blessings on me. Their notes and cards serve to remind me about Christ who came in poverty and to remind me that my life here is not about me, or my bills or what gifts I need to get, or what restaurant I am going out to. I am overjoyed to play a small part in their lives. I could tell you that there monthly incomes range from $50 to less than $150 or that they live in crowded small one room houses. When Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem, they were told there was no room for them to stay and thus the Creator of the Universe who makes each wave on all the waters of the earth in every sea and ocean, and each twinkle on all the stars in the universe, who knows each hair on yours and my head, was relegated to a place where the animals slept and were fed, to make His entry here in our world. God knows what poverty feels like. In this time of global recession, the poor suffer more than anyone else. If you can possibly find the money to support one of these children you will find joy in something greater than yourself and God's grace will touch your heart. That is what Christmas is truly about. You can sponsor here at or You can also give a single donation to

To the Humble God Reveals Himself

The power of the most High shall over-shadow thee” (Luke i, 35), said the angel to Mary. This shadow, beneath which is hidden the power of God for the purpose of bringing forth Jesus Christ in the soul, is the duty, the attraction, or the cross that is presented to us at each moment. These are, in fact, but shadows like those in the order of nature which, like a veil, cover sensible objects and hide them from us. Therefore in the moral and supernatural order the duties of each moment conceal, under the semblance of dark shadows, the truth of their divine character which alone should rivet the attention. It was in this light that Mary beheld them. Also these shadows diffused over her faculties, far from creating illusion, did but increase her faith in Him who is unchanging and unchangeable. The archangel may depart. He has delivered his message, and his moment has passed. Mary advances without ceasing, and is already far beyond him. The Holy Spirit, who comes to take possession of her under the shadow of the angel’s words, will never abandon her.

There are remarkably few extraordinary characteristics in the outward events of the life of the most holy Virgin, at least there are none recorded in holy Scripture. Her exterior life is represented as very ordinary and simple. She did and suffered the same things that anyone in a similar state of life might do or suffer. She goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth as her other relatives did. She took shelter in a stable in consequence of her poverty. She returned to Nazareth from whence she had been driven by the persecution of Herod, and lived there with Jesus and Joseph, supporting themselves by the work of their hands. It was in this way that the holy family gained their daily bread. But what a divine nourishment Mary and Joseph received from this daily bread for the strengthening of their faith! It is like a sacrament to sanctify all their moments. What treasures of grace lie concealed in these moments filled, apparently, by the most ordinary events. That which is visible might happen to anyone, but the invisible, discerned by faith, is no less than God operating very great things. O Bread of Angels! heavenly manna! pearl of the Gospel! Sacrament of the present moment! thou givest God under as lowly a form as the manger, the hay, or the straw. And to whom dost thou give Him? “Esurientes implevit bonis” (Luke i, 53). God reveals Himself to the humble under the most lowly forms, but the proud, attaching themselves entirely to that which is extrinsic, do not discover Him hidden beneath, and are sent empty away. Jean-Pierre De Caussade, SJ

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Exultate Justi

Laudamus te, laudamus !
We praise you, we give praise !

Exsultate, justi, in Domino;
Exult, you just, in the Lord;

Exsultate in Domino.
Exult in the Lord.

Exsultate, justi, in Domino;
Exult, you just, in the Lord;

rectos decet collaudatio.
praise from the upright is fitting.

Alleluia, Alleluia !
Salvator Dominus, Salvator mundi :
The Lord is Savior, Savior of the world :

Qui tollis peccata mundi.
You who take away the sins of the world.

Cantate ei canticum novum,
Sing to him a new song,

bene canite ei cum clangore.
pluck the strings skillfully with shouts of gladness.

Confront the World with the Message of Christ

While driving to Mass this morning I began to consider how I could become more like Christ in my day to day life. I would like to share some thoughts from my perspective. The more I comprehend the beauty and truth of Catholicism, the stronger my faith is. As God has designed things there is always opposing forces that sway like a pendulum, and even in the case of my faith there is no exception. I view the entire world, nay the entire universe from my Catholicism. I am guided by the Church's liturgical year. Advent means preparing for the coming of Christ, it does not mean Christmas shopping, Christmas trees, Christmas parties, or Christmas cards. I do participate in all of the above and by all means enjoy them, but they are on the peripheral; some I derive no pleasure from some (shopping) others bring a certain measure of joy. During Lent my focus is on deepening my spiritual life by self examination, fasting, walking the road to Calvary in trying to share emotionally in Christ's suffering and death. I rejoice in the Risen Christ at Easter and enjoy the ordinary things in Ordinary time. My faith in Christ is the center of my life. The danger of this devotion is that I would participate in my Catholic universe to the exclusion of others. others who a) are Catholics, b) Christians, c) Non-Believers. That would be living a lie, "for it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me." This is a real challenge for me because I do not get excited by things that are important to the secular world. As I meditated on this, the thought struck me; that I must not go through the motions when it concerns the secular belief of others, but rather I must see God's presence in each and every situation. I was in the check-out line and I noticed that the woman in front of me was purchasing Alvin and the Chipmunks video and CD. She had forgotten something and asked if was alright if she left and went and got it. I told her no problem, and when she came back I said, " anybody who listens to Alvin and the Chipmunks, can't be all that bad." She laughed and went on her way. Not a big deal, but I think what is important is to notice others and to consider them more important than you. This goes to the entire spectrum of my behavior; from not complaining when wronged, to looking for the good in each and every person. The message of Christ is a message of hope to everybody. This goes back to what I wrote about a couple of days ago with respect to how do you know you are discerning the Holy Spirit. It will reveal itself when you become more Christlike.The pendulum must not be off too far in one direction. We must all caution not to see ourselves as the Pharisee who thanked God that he wasn't like everybody else. It is in humility that God's grace finds its way to your heart. The world needs us, we who true followers of Christ, not because we are something special, on the contrary because we are regular people who can bring Christ (the Truth) to regular people, who are hurting, sometimes very messed up, addicted to sin and the pleasures of the world, empty and devoid of real love, abused and lonely, lost sheep. They are not outside of us, nor are they beyond the realm of God's mercy and love. We are Christ's eyes and ears, hands and feet to all we encounter.