Monday, May 31, 2010

Mary the New Ark of the Covenant

Today is the feast of the Visitation. Mary has become the New Ark of the New Covenant. Compare these readings from the Old Testament and the New Testament:

Then the glory of the LORD and the cloud cover the Tabernacle. (containing the Ark) and "overshadowed" (episkiazen) them. (Exod 40:34-35)

And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.(Luke 1:35)

And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Ba'ale-judah (the hill country of Judah), to bring up from there the ark of God (2 Samuel 6:2)

Mary arose and went to the hill country of Judah to visit Elizabeth ( Luke 1:39)

And David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, "How can the ark of the LORD come to me?" (2 Samuel 6:9)

Elizabeth exclaims: And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?(Luke 1:43)

So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD (2 Samuel 6:15-16)

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; Elizabeth cried with a loud shout " Blessed are you amoing women, and blesses is the fruit of thy womb." (Luke 1:41-42)

And the ark of the LORD remained in the house of O'bed-e'dom the Gittite three months (2 Samuel 6:11)

Mary remained in the hill country, in Elizabeth's house for three months. (Luke 1:56)

(with gratitude to Dr. Brant Pitre)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Blessed Trinity

The One whom the Father has sent into our hearts, the Spirit of his Son, is truly God. Consubstantial with the Father and the Son, the Spirit is inseparable from them, in both the inner life of the Trinity and his gift of love for the world. In adoring the Holy Trinity, life-giving, consubstantial, and indivisible, the Church's faith also professes the distinction of persons. When the Father sends his Word, he always sends his Breath. In their joint mission, the Son and the Holy Spirit are distinct but inseparable. To be sure, it is Christ who is seen, the visible image of the invisible God, but it is the Spirit who reveals him. Catechism of the Catholic Church 689

Jesus is Christ, "anointed," because the Spirit is his anointing, and everything that occurs from the Incarnation on derives from this fullness. When Christ is finally glorified, he can in turn send the Spirit from his place with the Father to those who believe in him: he communicates to them his glory, that is, the Holy Spirit who glorifies him. From that time on, this joint mission will be manifested in the children adopted by the Father in the Body of his Son: the mission of the Spirit of adoption is to unite them to Christ and make them live in him. CCC690

Saturday, May 29, 2010

More from Graduation Day

Kate with Uncle Bill & Aunt Ann.

Kate with her Grandpop- Mr. Chuck (not bad for 95 years young)

Me & the Mrs. with the newly graduated!

Graduation Day at LSU Law Shool

Yesterday marked an historic day in our family. our daughter graduated from LSU Law School. My sister and her husband came down from Massachusetts for the occasion. The commencement speaker was none other than Mr. James Carville, political pundit and LSU Law Graduate (1973). Mr. Carville has been quite vocal about the president's lack of action regarding the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and BP's (British Petroleum) haphazourds approach to mending the situation. Mr. Carville was his usual entertaining self and gave a very good commencement speech. We are so very proud of our daughter who graduated cum laude and is now preparing for the bar exam in July. She has always been quite remarkable in her work ethic and approach to her education, and her success has been proof of that. We gathered after the commencement and Mr. Carville was kind enough to mingle with the crowd. My sister snapped this picture of him and I. He must of thought I was someone important because he talked with me quite extensively about what we should do to BP. It certainly is a day I won't forget. My daughter expressed her sadness over finishing her academic career at LSU. She loved LSU and has many fond memories. I pray for her happiness as she embarks on her career.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Aim Very High

I like to compare the interior life to clothing, to the wedding garment the Gospel speaks about. The cloth is woven from all the habits or acts of piety which, like threads, together give strength to the cloth. And so, just as a torn dress is rejected even though the rest of the material is in good condition, if you pray and work... but are not penitent (or the other way round) your interior life is not (so to speak) complete.

Grace, like nature, normally acts gradually. We cannot, properly speaking, move ahead of grace. But in all that does depend on us we have to prepare the way and co-operate when God grants grace to us.

Souls have to be encouraged to aim very high; they have to be impelled towards Christ’s ideal. Lead them to the highest goals which should not be reduced or made weaker in any way. But remember that sanctity is not primarily worked out with one’s own hands. Grace normally takes its time, and is not inclined to act with violence.

Encourage your holy impatience, but don’t lose your patience.

Furrow - Josemaria Escriva

Thursday, May 27, 2010

An Instrument for the Front Line

The spreading of Christian teaching need not provoke antagonism, or harm those who do not know our doctrine. Caritas omnia suffert! — love bears all things. If one proceeds with charity, anyone who might otherwise have been opposed to Christianity and been deceived by error may easily and honestly end up committing himself to it. —However, there can be no giving ground in dogma in the name of a naive “breadth of belief”, for if anyone acted in this way he would risk putting himself out of the Church. Instead of winning a benefit for others he would harm himself.
Furrow 939

If you really love your own country, and I am sure you do, you would not hesitate to enlist as a volunteer to defend it from imminent danger. As I wrote to you before, everyone can be useful in an emergency: men and women; the old, the middle-aged, the young and even adolescents. Only invalids and children are left out.

Every day there is a call, not just for volunteers to enlist — that is very little — but for a general mobilization of souls to defend Christ’s Kingdom. And the King himself, Jesus, has called you expressly by your name. He asks you to fight in God’s battles, and to put at his service the noblest powers of your soul: your heart, your will, your understanding, all your being.
—Listen to me: the flesh, with your clean life and especially with the protection of the Virgin Mary, is no problem. Are you going to be such a coward as to try to get out of being enlisted with the excuse that your heart or will or intellect are weak? Are you going to pretend to claim some grounds for remaining in the ancillary services?

The Lord wants to make you an instrument for the front line —you are one already— and if you turn your back you deserve only pity, as a traitor.

Josemaria Escriva, Furrow 962

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

St. Philip Neri

This gracious, cheerful saint was Rome's apostle of the sixteenth century (1515-1595). A peculiar charism was his burning love of God, a love that imperceptibly communicated itself to all about him. So ardently did this fire of divine love affect him during the octave of Pentecost in his twenty-ninth year that the beating of his heart broke two ribs. It was a wound that never healed.

For fifty years the saint lived on in the intensity of that love which was more at home in heaven than on earth. Through those fifty years his was an apostolate to renew the religious and ecclesiastical spirit of the Eternal City, a task he brought to a happy conclusion. It is to his credit that the practice of frequent Holy Communion, long neglected in Rome and throughout the Catholic world, was again revived. He became one of Rome's patron saints, even one of the most popular.

Philip Neri loved the young, and they responded by crowding about him. As a confessor he was in great demand; among his penitents was St. Ignatius. To perpetuate his life's work, St. Philip founded the Congregation of the Oratory, a society of secular clergy without religious vows. The purpose of his foundation was to enkindle piety among the faithful by means of social gatherings which afforded not only entertainment but religious instruction as well. Joy and gaiety were so much a part of his normal disposition that Goethe, who esteemed him highly, called him the "humorous saint." It was his happy, blithe spirit that opened for him the hearts of children. "Philip Neri, learned and wise, by sharing the pranks of children himself became a child again" (epitaph).

As a youth Philip Neri often visited the seven principal churches of Rome. He spent entire nights at the catacombs, near the tombs of the martyrs, meditating on heavenly things. The liturgy was the wellspring of his apostolic spirit; it should likewise motivate us to Catholic Action.

— Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

Patron: Rome; United States Army Special Forces.

Symbols: Rosary; lily; angel holding a book.

Things to Do:

  • St. Philip Neri was well known for his sense of humor. To honor him today try to laugh at yourself when something annoying happens, try to make someone else happy by your cheerful disposition.
  • St. Philip's favorite feast was Corpus Christi. Make a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
(Courtesy of

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Joel Olsteen Never Read Mark 10:17-27

Nothing is more insidious today than the so called "prosperity Gospel." And no person is a greater proponent of it than Joel Olsteen. Prosperity Gospel focuses on the goodness of God. You will find no argument from me that God is good and that we should count our blessing and give thanksgiving with gratitude. However if you only take a cursory glance at the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John you will find that Jesus is in no way concerned solely with his followers prosperity and good fortune. He repeatedly states that on "must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23. What could that cross be Joel? A new car, a new job, a new house, the winning lottery ticket? Christ may have died for our sins but we are still out their committing them! Where is repentance and conversion? There is one reason why people flock to ministers like Joel Olsteen - his message is the same message as the secular world: worship material things. The measure of success according to the secular world is how much money, power and control one has. Joel Osteen's message is a false message. So if you have not read Mark 10: 17-27 here it is straight from Jesus:

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,

knelt down before him, and asked him,

Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?

No one is good but God alone.

You know the commandments: You shall not kill;

you shall not commit adultery;

you shall not steal;

you shall not bear false witness;

you shall not defraud;

honor your father and your mother.”

He replied and said to him,

Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,

“You are lacking in one thing.

Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor

and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

At that statement, his face fell,

and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,

“How hard it is for those who have wealth

to enter the Kingdom of God!”

The disciples were amazed at his words.

So Jesus again said to them in reply,

Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle

than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”

They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,

Then who can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said,

“For men it is impossible, but not for God.

All things are possible for God.”

Monday, May 24, 2010

The End of the Holy Shroud Exhibit

Stephen Langton Archibisop of Cantebury

Stephen Langton may perhaps be the least known great Catholic that ever lived, yet his impact on the world was quite significant. He was born in England in 1155 and studied in Paris, remained there as a teacher of theology until 1206 when Pope Innocent III named him Cardinal because of his great learning and holiness. Innocent procured his election to the See of Canterbury. The king of England was King John. That is the same treacherous, evil King John whom we know of from the Legends of Robin Hood. King John refused to allow Stephen Langton to become Archbishop of Canterbury. Finally in 1213 the king relented and allowed Stephen Langton to the See of Canterbury as Archbishop. Stephen Langton along with other barons were able to restrain the king's lawlessness by drawing up a document that secured individual rights and legal protections for the common man. That document is the Magna Carta. It is from the Magna Carta that the rule of habeus corpus - the right to a hearing for the accused before being jailed, was created. Archbishop Langton was a great Biblical scholar and was the first person to break holy Scriptures into chapters, for example we all know John 3:16 "God so loved the world," Langton decided where chapters began and ended. One last thing about Stephen Langton, every Pentecost Sunday the great hymn Veni, Sancte, Spiritus is either sung or recited. He composed that great hymn. What a marvelous man who is relatively unknown in Catholic circles.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Spirit Gave Them Utterance

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4

God is present in all created things. His presence can be made known to anyone who mediates on His creation. This morning I heard God's voice in the early morning symphony of birds singing to one another. Its was beautiful as I pondered what they were saying to each other and attempted to decipher the myriad of chirps, whistles, and songs. It was a simple Saturday morning thing yet marvelous to think that God takes care of those beautiful creatures who were serenading me. But God does so much more for us. In man God desires us, desires to be united with us, He goes beyond thinking of us as His creation. This is so important to realize. God is like that girl or boy in adolescence who secretly likes you and you are not aware that in their quiet time they are thinking of you. God does does this on the grandest of scales. He loves each one of his creations, like a mother loves her children. The difference is that as a child we were all once part of our mother and then separated from her at our birth. God seeks to enter into union with us, he wants us to experience a new birth, whereupon He enters us and we become united with Him. This is what all of His creations should strive for, not fame, not wealth, not toys,not sensual pleasures or a great career. All those things are not bad or evil in themselves, as long as they do not deter from getting to know God and moving closer to Him each and every day. When the power of the Holy Spirit enters you, there exists within you a Divine Life, and unlike anything you experience on a human level, it is transforming love. It will give you an utterance, the ability to speak of God unlike anything you could do on your own. It is wisdom and beauty and new life all rolled into one, gushing forth. There is nothing comparable in our mere human experiences. Pure love.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Leg of a Journey

Nearly six months ago I embarked on a new career path. This marked a new chapter in my life, something that I had discerned about for sometime. In trying to live my Catholic faith to the fullest and to give to others I saw a problem with my life. I was devout, I was prayerful, I lived a sacramental life, I read Sacred Scripture, frequented Eucharistic Adoration, but due to my responsibilities to my own business I had little time in community with others. I was the "clanging cymbal" that St. Paul describes in Chapter 13 in his letter to the Corinthians. I had decided to get involved in a ministry that would get me out among people, so I became a volunteer at a Catholic Hospital as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. Each week I would spend a couple of hours bringing Communion to the sick. It has been an a wonderful and humbling experience and I have received countless blessings from it. That was three years ago. This past January after embarking on a Master's Degree in Theology, I became a school teacher. Its has been a wonderful experience and I was blessed to be with an incredibly kind, helpful, gracious and generous staff and wonderful colleagues, my fellow teachers. I made many mistakes but I survived! I have a new profound respect for teachers and the job they do. The joy that I experience each and every day in the classroom trying to impart the Faith to those young people has truly been a blessing. God always has been so good to me. In my heart I thank all those marvelous people and pray that they have a happy and holy summer. God Bless.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fr. James Martin is Flat Out Wrong

Fr. James Martin, S.J the culture editor for the Jesuit weekly magazine America, has come out in an article entitled Hingham, Same-Sex Marriage and Life Issues criticizing Pope Benedict XVI when he declared Pope Benedict XVI's comments last week in Fatima, Portugal, in which he stated that abortion and same-sex marriage were "some of today's most insidious and dangerous threats" to the common good seemed oddly discordant. The equation of abortion, something that clearly is about a threat to life, with same-sex marriage, which no matter how you look at it, does not mean that anyone is going to die, is bizarre. A good friend of mine, who is gay, recently resigned from a position at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, where he said, with great dismay, that “abortionsamesexmarriage” had become one polysyllabic word among some of his bosses. He further argues "Why has same-sex marriage been equated with abortion? Are they really equivalent "threats" to life? If you’re looking for a life issue with stakes as high as abortion, why not something that actually threatens life? Like war? Or the death penalty? Or the kind of poverty and destitution that lead to death? Why aren't “abortion and war” the most "insidious and dangerous" threats to the common good? Or “war and the death penalty”? Or “war and poverty?” The great danger is that this increasingly popular equation will seem to many as having less to do with moral equivalency and more to do with a simple dislike, or even a hatred, of gays and lesbians." There are a few points that I would like to make regarding Father Martin's poor understanding of human sexuality and its relationship to life. Homosexuality is against the laws of God and the laws of nature. It is never under any circumstances devoid of moral consequences. What Pope Benedict is saying is that the very fabric of the Trinitarian life is the family and when you destroy the family you are attacking the Church and turning your back on God. Father Martin has chosen to side with the pagan, secular society that believes that there are no moral consequences for one's actions. This is equivalent to looking over the Ten Commandments like a drive-thru menu, what would you argue next for? Bestiality? There is a link between abortion and same sex-marriage: they are both morally wrong, they both disrespect what is and what will always be God's plan for humanity from the beginning - the family unit and the continuation of life, they are insidious because as they become more accepted and commonplace within societal norms, man will be destroying his very self. Father Martin, let's rid ourselves of the Mass and the Eucharist and start worshiping "golden calves." I'm sure St. Ignatius is proud of you.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Invitation

"Follow me." The first act by Jesus to his disciples is an invitation. The word invitation denotes something that most of us can identify with: being included for something special. It seems that those very important, highlighted moments of our lives call for invitations. Before we were born perhaps a baby shower announced our coming. This is followed by a child's first birthday and invitations to the subsequent birthday parties. We mark the accomplishments and educational milestones with graduations and extend an invitation to family and friends to join in celebrating it with us. Any bride-to-be knows how important it is to planning and getting out the wedding invitations. Who doesn't react with joy when an invitation shows up in the mail? An invitation says two things: I consider you important, and I wish you to be included. The Creator invites His creation. This in of itself reveals who God is. He considers us important and even more so desires us, yes desires, us to be included. In my conversations with young people I try o emphasize what that means. We are called to be lifted from the banality of our human existence to the supreme beauty and goodness of the Divine. If one truly desires something new and exciting, something out of this world, then accept the invitation, for as Jesus said "with God nothing is impossible." This invitation is not to a club that has a"members only" sign on the door. It is for everybody: the poor, the wealthy, those in pain, those who have joy, and those who have lost hope. The door is large enough for all of us to pass through. Jesus asks "won't you join me?" We are that important to Him.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Clothed with the Power from on High

And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high." Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them.
While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God. Luke 24:49-53.

I find it interesting that the least known and perhaps the most denied facets of our faith are of those that are so diametrically opposed: the Holy Spirit and Satan. Many Christians have no concept of the power of the Holy Spirit and His presence is totally absent from their lives. The "Giver of Life" as we profess in our creed, was promised to us by Jesus. The passage above is one of the affirming passages that indeed the Apostles were given power, that is Apostolic authority by God. They were instructed to essentially do nothing until they were "clothed with the power from on high." This should indicate to all of us that they true measure of our Christian life is whether our actions are being directed by the Holy Spirit or not. St. Ignatius of Loyola recognized this and in the Spiritual Exercises, it is necessary that one discern by the fruit of one's actions who is the driving force behind them, the Holy Spirit or the Evil One. In his book titled " The Five Pillars of the Spiritual Life" (a book I would highly recommend) Father Robert Spitzer, SJ, writes about the Holy Spirit's favorite tactic - He draws us towards an opportunity...then opens the door into the opportunity...then furthers the opportunity through a sense of peace, excitement, and zeal. The result is greater faith with more opportunities presented. Remember this Power from on High overshadowed Mary to bring the Word Incarnate to us, and it is the Epiclesis, calling upon the Holy Spirit that transforms the the bread and wine into the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus. Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide your actions and to aid you as you seek opportunities to live out your Christian vocation.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Our Lady of Fatima

Our Holy Father is visiting Fatima where the Virgin Mary first appeared to three shepherd children on May 13th 1917 and for the next 6 months on the 13th of each month. On the last apparition Mary had promised a miracle. On that day before approximately 70,000, including newspaper reporters and photographers. The sun "danced" in the sky defying the laws of nature.

Fatima Prayer

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins.

Save us from the fires of hell,

lead all souls to heaven

especially those

in most need of thy mercy


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Remember Love

Having faith in God is believing in a love that will never fail you. To reject God is turn your back on the ultimate Lover. The Lover who never stops giving, never stops caring, never stops pursuing your love. The Evangelist John does not write that God is this and that about love, no John describes God in this way: God is love. Paul writes so beautifully in 1 Corinthian 13 - read these words slowly over and over: "If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, 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 love, 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 love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, (God is patient, God is kind)

it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. (God rejoices with the truth)

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (God bears all things)

Love never fails." (God never fails)
Jesus gave us the new commandment of love when he said"I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

There is something we all can do, in union with Christ and imitating the Holy Trinity: love somebody, love them despite their faults, despite our wants and needs, despite the color of their skin, despite their social status, despite their intellect, despite all the reasons you have not to. In that love you will become like Christ and you bring Him to another person. There is nothing more perfect and more beautiful than that.

Monday, May 10, 2010

St. Damien de Veuster of Moloka'i

Damien de Veuster was born in Tremeloo, Belgium in 1840. He joined the Congregation of Sacred Hearts, and volunteered for missions in Hawaii, where he was ordained to the priesthood upon his arrival. In 1873 he began his ministry among the quarantined lepers of Moloka'i until his death of leprosy in 1889. Pope John Paul II beatified him in 1995 and just last year Pope Benedict canonised him. For more info on Damien see

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Happy Mothers Day to all mothers out there and for me personally to my own mom. I would like to digress here just to make a brief point. I am one of those people who am appalled by the fact that there is no sacredness to one's privacy. From the "bear your soul" talk shows to people who share intimate information while talking on a cell phone at the supermarket. Most of the time it is one of two things: either the need to call attention to oneself or just plain ignorance. There is a private side to our lives, sometimes it is a "struggle" that we deal with, some times it is what Jesus spoke about when he said, "do not let the right hand know what the left hand is doing," a desire to help others with no need or requirement for recognition. There are countless people who give day in and day out and remain in the background never recognized. That being said I would like to share with you a little about my mom. My mother is 85 years old, in the past 20 years or so I have seen her perhaps a dozen times or so, if that. She and my dad live a good distance away. My mom was a very caring mother, who gave her all in raising the five of us. She was extremely intelligent even though her education did not go past high school. She was an excellent cook and taught me how to cook and more importantly how to love to cook. My mom worried all the time about us children, except that she told me once that she did not worry about me, that I would be successful no matter what I did. I regret that my travels have taken me so far away and that my children have obviously had a limited relationship with her. That was a choice I made. I am grateful for her and pray for her. I may not have said this to you enough mom, thank you for everything, I love you.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Joy of a Virtuous Life

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians:4:8

A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.

The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Why would one seek to live a righteous and virtuous life? The answer to that questions lies in what occurs when one does not. Take a look at the mess that the professional athletes and celebrities have created because they lived a life that was a lie or because they disregarded others right's or dignity. A virtuous person leads a happy life. He or she does not worry if their actions will be found out by others, or spend needless time and energy lying and deceiving others. In the Book of Proverbs it says "son, forget not my teaching, keep in mind my commands;For many days, and years of life, and peace, will they bring you" The multitude of problems that occur in our world have been brought on by disobedience to God. God's commandments come from a loving Father, if followed they don't bring chaos or misery to one's life, they bring joy!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Josemaria Escriva' on the Supernatural Life

Most people have a plane-like vision, stuck to the earth, of two dimensions. When you live a supernatural life, God will give you the third dimension: height, and with it, perspective, weight and volume.

If you lose the supernatural meaning of your life, your charity will be philanthropy; your purity, decency; your mortification, stupidity; your discipline, a whip; and all your works, fruitless.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Feast Day of St. James and St. Philip

Today is the feast day of St. James and St. Philip. Who were they?

I will start with James because people often get him confused. The names James is a Hellenized form of the name Jacob, so it is not unusual to see many James at the time of Christ. The first James that we encounter is James the son of Zebedee, brother of John both Galilean fishermen ( see Mark 1:19 and Matthew 4:21). He and his brother John were called "sons of thunder" by Jesus because of their zeal. (Mark 3:17) They were appointed a part of the 12 Apostles who had a special relationship with Jesus. James was in the close circle of a trio of disciples who witness the raising of Jarius's' daughter(Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51), the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2), and the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane(Matthew 26:37; Mark 14;32-33). He was the first Apostle to suffer martyrdom- he was beheaded at the command of King Agrippa I of Judea in 44 A.D.(Acts:12:2) He was also known as James the Greater (he was either older or taller) His feast day is July 25th.

The James whose feast day is today May 3rd is James "Brother of the Lord" (Matthew 13:55;Mark 6:3;Galatians 1:19). He was the brother of Joses, Simon, and Judas.(Mark 6:3) Paul writes that James had a personal encounter with the Risen Christ (1Corithinians 15:7) and later became the leader of the early Christian community in Jerusalem. His authority grew after Peter fled Jerusalem after escaping execution at the hands of Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:2) James was also visited by Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 21:18) He was traditional known as the first Bishop of Jerusalem by Clement of Alexandria calls him that as recorded by Eusebius. He is also know as James the Lesser (either younger or shorter) Most scholars consider him the author of the New Testament Epistle of James.

Philip was one of the 12 Apostles (Acts 1:13; John 1: 43-51), he came from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. In John's Gospel Philip is present in several episodes - the feeding of the multitude (John 6:5-7), when some Greeks say they want to meet Jesus(John 12:21-23), at the Last Supper Discourse when Jesus says " Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me Philip."(John 14:8-9) Philip is ranked 5th in three different lists after the brothers Peter and Andrew, James and John. (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:14-19; Luke 6:13-16)

St. James and St. Philip Pray for us.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What is Faith?

What is faith? What cause me to ask this question was that I was reading a book review from an author who was making a compelling case for the "historical" Jesus, and in the comments section was a lapsed Catholic who was looking for confirmation of what she called FACTS, and that this led her back to the church, unfortunately not the Catholic Church(perhaps she should investigate some more FACTS about Christianity and the Early Church). Back to my question: what is faith? Well, before I share what I consider faith to be let's look at what the secular world thinks faith is. I work with young people and they for the most part have bought into what modern thought has defined as faith: faith is separate from rational thought. Faith is isolated and belongs to those who believe in something akin to"fairy tales", mythology, and superstition. Faith has no place in the realm of every day thinking, of a rational, thinking person. Well my friend that is absurd! If you wake up and get out of bed you have faith. You have set of beliefs that guide how you will act, what you will do, where you will go. There is no such thing as a neutral set of values. Everyday a person lives, he or she makes decisions based on their personal faith.( even an atheist believes there is no God, not possessing definitive proof) Another ridiculous notion is that "traditional" beliefs are old, archaic, and silly - the thoughts of ancient, superstitious people who do not have the benefit of modern thought and clarity. Pure nonsense! Most of secular thinking that people today live by, came from people who lived from 200 to 100 years ago. These individuals would be considered backwards today by most people's standards. The average "Joe" is intellectually lazy, knows not how he or she came about believing what they believe, and frankly could care less. As I said if you get out of bed you believe in something, even if what you believe has been around for a while. Back in the neighborhood of 200BC a fella known as Qoheleth, writing in the Book of Ecclesiastes said "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." Much of modern secular thinking is a "re-hash" and "re-engineering" of old thinking. The difference today is most people do not possesses the ability to critically investigate what they believe - they just believe it. That my friend is faith! Going full circle back to the beginning of this post, it was a good things that that woman wanted some historical FACTS to back her belief. Christianity is not something that somebody invented as an alternative to pagan beliefs. Jesus lived here on earth, people testified to knowing him. Second generation Early Church Fathers testified to knowing the apostles, who had first hand experiences with Jesus. Christian Faith is assenting to God and the teachings of Jesus Christ. This assent is a "supernatural gift", it does not require "scientific testing." Pope Benedict XVI in his prior writings as Cardinal Ratzinger puts it this way:

"Contrary to scientific knowledge or other types of certainty, the assent of faith comes from a personal encounter with God. He reveals himself to us, and we respond with the assent of faith. “Through being touched in this way, the will knows that even what is still not ‘clear’ to reason is true” and it assents to faith in God. “When the heart comes into contact with God’s Logos, with the Word who became man, this inmost point of his existence is being touched.” Or, put another way, “just as a person becomes certain of another’s love without being able to subject it to methods of scientific experiment, so in the contact between God and man there is a certainty of a quite different kind from the certainty of objectivizing thought.” He goes on to say:

“in the act of believing the assent comes about …by an act of the will, in connection with which the thought process remains open and still under way.” In other words, although the heart has assented to give itself fully to the truth, because the assent has not come by means of reason, the thought process, the search for understanding, must strive to catch up with the assent of the heart and is therefore open, and, furthermore, spurred on, to search for deeper understanding. Within this search, what Thomas calls a contrary motion (motus de contrario), arises, which can “be the challenge summoning forth a deeper knowledge.”
Contrary to the shallow modern thought that fails to investigate what it believes and rejects any challenges to it; Catholic faith is a process whereby theologians are constantly asking why do we believe what we do. Catholics and Christians who "buy into" secular thinking, stop thinking and that is very dangerous.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Belongs to Mary

May to Belongs to Queen Mother Mary. Mary and motherhood are inextricably woven together. Motherhood in modern times by many has been reduced to this 9-15 month inconvenience. The time when women have to take time off from their real profession until the child is 6 months old or so when they are able to return to work. Then motherhood becomes a job of handing off the child to daycare, to school, and to the world of work. This hassle is usually limited to one to two children lest they burden themselves financially. We sometimes forget that Mary living in the ancient world had to bear much hardship in caring for her son. Fra Angelico's painting reminds us of the long journey to Egypt to escape Herod's wrath. There is no greater vocation for married women than motherhood. It is a life that models Christ in every aspect. Birthing a child is an act of self giving, a mother subjects her self to great pain and suffering to bring forth new life to the world. A mother shares in her child's joys and disappointments. A mother is a teacher, and guide. A mother has to discipline and console. After years of sacrificing, a mother relinquishes her child to world as an adult (hopefully). God through Mary elevated motherhood to an even higher position. Have you ever considered this: why did God choose to become man and live in a family? Why not appear as an adult and get on with his three year ministry, death & resurrection? Why? Could it be that He lived in a family already (The Holy Trinity), and that a family is a sacred institution. Mary was chosen over all the women, in all of the world, in all of history and time. God chose her and her only. What an honor! Mary chooses us to share her son with us, her son whom no one knew more intimately - what an honor for mankind and for motherhood. May belongs to Mary. He chose her to breast feed him, to clean him up, to feed him, to clothe him, to care for him when he was ill, to teach him, to show him love, to be his mother.Mary Queen of Peace, Pray for us.