Archive | September, 2016

Make Believe or Real

22 Sep

 

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A man had left his eldest son in charge of his three million dollar fortune. The eldest son was to share the fortune equally with his two younger brothers.

When all three sons gathered to share the vast fortune, the eldest son gave his two brothers each a million dollars in play money, telling them, “This is a symbol of your inheritance, use it wisely.”

The night before he died, Jesus suffered great agony in the Garden. He was literally so overwhelmed with the death he was to undergo, he sweat blood. He asked his Father to spare him this agony—but quickly gave himself to the will of his Father, who is also our Father.

From this terrible suffering, Jesus went to what is now called the Last Supper.

He took bread and said, “Take and eat, all of your, for this is my Body given for you.” Then took a cup of wine and said, “This is my Blood, the Blood of the New and Eternal Covenant which is to be shed for you.” He gave the Bread and the Cup to his disciples.

At such a moment, fresh for the agony in the Garden and knowing the torture and death he was to undergo, do you think for a moment he was play-acting, that he would give us a mere symbol?

 

 

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HUH?

13 Sep

 

 

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Mesmerized with Joy

I never get used to the surprises God has in store for me as I pray the Liturgy of the Hours. It happened again just a few minutes ago.

Don’t ask me what sparked the thought. It just came to me in a rush:

          Each of us builds up or tears down the Body of Christ.

Perhaps I’ve become mesmerized with the joy that comes with knowing that I am part of the Body of Christ, that we all together form, with Jesus, his Mystical Body on earth.

After all, what an uplifting thought—and truth!

It is so comfortable to rest in that truth.

But, when I sin, I weaken—or tear down—the Body of Christ. In the state of grace, I am one with my Lord and Savior. I am one with all who, at that moment, are in the state of grace. Or, maybe, since we are all sinners, I remain in a weaker connection with all who believe and are in the state of grace.

How can I build up the Church when I am in sin? How can I, without the light of grace, fully further the mission of Christ?

It is St. Paul who urges us to be “children of God without blemish in the midst of a perverse and crooked generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world” (Phil 2:15).

I want to be such a child of God—along with all who profess to be Christian.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Confession

4 Sep

 

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Mother Teresa is now St. Teresa of Calcutta—but she will remain our Mother Teresa who became an inspiration for millions. She was like Jesus, she lived for others. She was counter-cultural.

She struggled with darkness of soul. She rarely felt the joy of the presence of God. Yet, she persevered.

Mother Teresa had the moral conviction and strength to do what Jesus asked her to do.

The thought of such sanctity, strength and courage has led me to think long and hard about my own faith.

I’m afraid I’ve become what Bishop Barron calls a “Beige Catholic”—or a “Comfortable Catholic,” as someone else suggested.

Jesus called it “luke warm” faith.

In other words, my tendency is to seek the comfort of fellow believers, to cozy up to the Jesus of mercy and, all too often, to turn away from his demand that I take up my cross and follow him.

Jesus challenged the pride and false faith of the Pharisees. He embraced the poor, the neglected and abused in society. Jesus became one with those who suffer and with the oppressed who were denied justice.

He embraced the Cross for our salvation.

And yet, I choose to rest comfortably here, in the bosom of our wonderful parish, where love and faith fill every cell of my being.

And well I should. A good parish is a wonderful place to be.

Yet, at eighty-two yeas of age, nagging questions give me no rest:

  • Have I done all I can do to bring the light of Christ into my world?
  • Isn’t this messy world now someone else’s problem?
  • Do I ignore my Christian duty because I don’t want to pay the cost of true discipleship?

And, how do I respond as society drifts farther from the Gospel?

  • I sit and fume over same-sex “marriages” and bathrooms.
  • When it comes to cohabitation, even among Christians, I manage a disapproving frown.
  • I am angry about politicians who promise even more discord and desperation in our nation.
  • I bemoan the exodus of so many Catholics—young and old—from the Church our Lord Jesus founded.

I pray, write and preach. But what do I DO about it?

Perhaps I shrink at the demand of Jesus to love no one and nothing more than I must love him—and to love others with the same love he gives me. Perhaps I’m not willing to pay the price of such a commitment—it’s much safer just doing what I’m doing.

Father Charles Pope, Archdiocese of Washington, has said that in the first three centuries, there were thirty-three popes, thirty were martyred and two died in exile. They gave their lives.

In a reflection on Scripture, America magazine reminds me that Jesus is asking for my life. He wants me to take up the cross of true faith, the saving message of the Gospel and accept the light of the Holy Spirit. He begs me to give myself entirely to his mission of salvation of all people.

But I can’t do this alone. Nor can any one of us.

Together we must bleach the beige out of our Catholicism. We must cast aside our comfy blankets. Authentic Catholicism must come even more alive in us if others are to believe.

With apostolic zeal we must eagerly take up the cross and the mission that Jesus has given us.

Many Catholics believe that we will face increased persecution.

The cost of true discipleship may well become more evident. But the cost pales in the face of God’s love for us. No cost is too much if we, as did Mother Teresa, love him and everyone for whom he died.

Mother Teresa, pray for us.