Teach Us to Pray

October 5, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray… (Luke 11:1-4)

TEACH US TO PRAY: Jesus went off by Himself to pray quite often. The disciples noticed this and wanted to know more. After all, doesn’t God already know what we need and want? And yet, here was Jesus, making time for prayer.

So…why do we need to pray? We need to pray because…

…prayer helps us to establish and maintain a relationship with God. It is an ongoing dialogue with Him. We wouldn’t think of going several days without talking to our best friend. Why would we not talk to God every day?

…prayer allows us to feel the presence of God in our lives.

…prayer is communal. As we pray, we know that people all over the world are praying as well.

…regular prayer builds good habits. Prayer and our connection to God become a genuine part of who we are.

…prayer offers us a safe place to turn for help or support. We know when we are down, depressed, stressed, worried, or sad we will always have a loving ear to listen to us. When we are happy, excited, or just want to share some good news, we know we will always have someone who will be excited with us. When we have a tough decision to make, we know God will help us sort it out. We know we have someone who will listen to whatever it is we have to say and still love us unconditionally.

…prayer calms us and energizes us at the same time. It gives us inner strength and resolve.

Whatever is holding us back from praying regularly, we need to try to work through it. The pay-off is worth it.

Anxious and Worried

October 4, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.”  (Luke 10:38-42)

ANXIOUS AND WORRIED: We all have a bit of Martha in us, don’t we? We get so caught up in the stuff of our lives, that we lose focus.

Maybe, like Martha, we worry about all that we have to do. Or perhaps our minds are full of “could haves” and “should haves” – we spend our time worrying about things that happened in the past over which we have no control or we anxiously look ahead to what may or may not happen in the future.

So much of our time is spent looking back or looking forward that we lose sight of the here and now. When we are not living in the present, we are not being present to others. In addition, we are not being open to the presence of God.

Remember, God comes to you everyday, disguised as your life.

Memorial of St. Theodore Guerin

October 3, 2022 – Memorial of St. Theodore Guerin. Mother Guerin is the patroness of St. Theodore Guerin High School in Noblesville, IN – where I serve as President. In addition, my daughter is a proud graduate of St. Mary of the Woods College in Terre Haute, IN.

Statue

Saint Mother Theodore was a woman of courage, determination and compassion. From a young age she faced many challenges.  Her trust in Providence – the protective care of God – helped her accomplish many things.

After the tragic deaths of both her brothers and her father, Saint Mother Theodore spent many years taking care of her mother and sister. Her deep desire to serve God would have to wait. At the age of 25 her mother finally allowed her to follow her dream and devote her life entirely to God.

Saint Mother Theodore entered religious life with the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé sur-Loir, France. It was around this time that she began having health issues that would plague her for the rest of her life. This did not deter her.

As a new sister Saint Mother Theodore was sent to various parishes in France where she taught, helped the poor and cared for the sick. When the bishop of Vincennes, Indiana requested sisters to come to the New World to help with the influx of Catholic immigrants, Saint Mother Theodore was thought to be the only woman who could undertake such a demanding mission.

The journey was long and difficult. After traveling for nearly three months Saint Mother Theodore and her five companions arrived only to discover they were in the remote wilderness of Indiana known as Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. There was not a village or a house in sight. Life was not going to get any easier.

Despite the obstacles, Saint Mother Theodore was able to open an academy for girls in less than a year. Once this was done she continued forward and established schools throughout Indiana and Eastern Illinois.  She also opened two orphanages in Vincennes and a free pharmacy at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and Vincennes.

St. Mother Theodore died on May 14, 1856. On Oct. 15, 2016 at St. Peter’s Square in Rome Mother Theodore was canonized and received the title, “Saint” from the Catholic Church. She is designated in the Vatican’s official record as Saint Theodora.

Her life still continues to inspire. She is remembered as a woman devoted to prayer, an educator, caregiver and leader.  Her love and respect for nature is still evident in her beloved woods. She was a champion of justice and was empathetic to those who suffered. At the time of her beatification Pope John Paul II pronounced the life of Mother Theodore Guerin as “a perfect blend of humanness and holiness”.

Source: https://spsmw.org/saint-mother-theodore/about-saint-mother-theodore-guerin/

Homily: Stir into Flame

October 2, 2022 – Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

First reading: Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4, Second reading: 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14, and the Gospel of Luke 17:5-10

I am not preaching this weekend, but I preached the following homily on these same readings at St. Pius X Parish BACK IN 2013:

The readings for today offer a rich variety upon which to reflect. To be honest, this was a difficult week to prepare a homily; not because there was nothing to sink my teeth into, but because there was so much from which to choose.

The first reading looks at the age-old question: Why is there so much violence and ugliness in a world created by God? It reads: Destruction and violence are before me. Why do you let me see ruin? Why must I look at misery? One only needs to watch the evening news to begin to ask those same questions.

The Gospel has two great themes: One image is that of the power of faith – even if only the size of a tiny mustard seed. A second image is that of the unprofitable servant, who must do the work of God without expectation of reward or even time to rest.

But each time I read, I kept coming back to one line from Paul’s second letter to Timothy, “Stir into flame the gift of God.”

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Rejoice Later

October 1, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:17-24)

REJOICE LATER: We hear a passage from Luke today that warns us not to get too caught up in earthly rewards. This reading is the lead-in for tomorrow’s Gospel about the unprofitable servant.

The bottom line is that we were put on this earth to do God’s work.  We cannot worry about receiving any immediate tangible benefit from that work – that is not why we do it. We do it because that is what we are called to do. We do it because we love God and are called to love others.

The disciples returned to Jesus, excited about the work they had been doing, and rejoicing because they had discovered they had the power to order demons and evil spirits to come out of the afflicted. They were delighted with their newfound power.

Jesus brings them back down to earth. Do not rejoice over this power you now have, He tells them. Doing the work of God will earn you a spot in heaven – that is rejoice-worthy!

Jesus tells us the same thing. Any good things that come to us here on earth because we do God’s work are of little value. The value will come with eternal life.

Memorial of Saint Jerome

September 30, 2022 – Memorial of Saint Jerome, priest and doctor of the Church

Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Saint Jerome, one of the four original Western doctors of the Church, is perhaps best known for translating the Bible from Greek (the Septuagint) into Latin (the Vulgate). A remarkable scholar and a sometimes prickly man, Saint Jerome nevertheless believed deeply in the mercy of Christ, as this prayer of Saint Jerome for Christ’s mercy abundantly shows.

A Prayer of Saint Jerome for Christ’s Mercy

O Lord, show Your mercy to me and gladden my heart. I am like the man on the way to Jericho who was overtaken by robbers, wounded and left for dead. O Good Samaritan, come to my aid. I am like the sheep that went astray. O Good Shepherd, seek me out and bring me home in accord with Your will. Let me dwell in Your house all the days of my life and praise You for ever and ever with those who are there. Amen.

Saint Jerome is the Patron Saint of: Librarians, scholars, and translators

Source: http://catholicism.about.com/od/prayers/qt/Prayer-Of-Saint-Jerome.htm

Feast of the Archangels

September 29, 2022 – Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels

Angels—messengers from God—appear frequently in Scripture, but only Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are named.

Michael appears in Daniel’s vision as “the great prince” who defends Israel against its enemies; in the Book of Revelation, he leads God’s armies to final victory over the forces of evil. Devotion to Michael is the oldest angelic devotion, rising in the East in the fourth century. The Church in the West began to observe a feast honoring Michael and the angels in the fifth century.

Gabriel also makes an appearance in Daniel’s visions, announcing Michael’s role in God’s plan. His best-known appearance is an encounter with a young Jewish girl named Mary, who consents to bear the Messiah.

Raphael’s activity is confined to the Old Testament story of Tobit. There he appears to guide Tobit’s son Tobiah through a series of fantastic adventures which lead to a threefold happy ending: Tobiah’s marriage to Sarah, the healing of Tobit’s blindness and the restoration of the family fortune.

Each of these archangels performs a different mission in Scripture: Michael protects; Gabriel announces; Raphael guides.

Earlier belief that inexplicable events were due to the actions of spiritual beings has given way to a scientific world-view and a different sense of cause and effect. Yet believers still experience God’s protection, communication and guidance in ways which defy description. We cannot dismiss angels too lightly.

Source: Franciscan Media

Go and Proclaim

September 28, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

But Jesus answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”  (Luke 9:57-62)

GO AND PROCLAIM: Today’s Gospel reminds us that opting for the right path, freely choosing to do good, can sometimes be challenging. Jesus was approached by several people who had been listening intently to what He had to say. They asked Jesus if they could follow Him, if they could join Him on His journey.

He responded, “…the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” In other words, “Do you know what you are getting into? Are you prepared to do what it takes? To put aside your own wants and needs?”

Jesus’ response might have sounded harsh, but it painted a true picture of what following Him would entail – “pick up your cross and follow me.”

One of the men he was speaking to accepted the challenge. The man said he was willing to accept the hardships that come with following Jesus. Then he added, “But my father just died, let me go and bury him first, then I will follow you.”

Jesus responded, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

He does not affirm the man for his decision to follow Him, or show compassion by allowing him time to bury his father. Instead he tells the man, “If you’re going to follow me, it must be now.”

Many heard Jesus speak, but only a few freely chose to approach Jesus and ask to follow Him. This showed courage. They chose the right path. There is no more important work than the work of Jesus. It takes commitment; but a commitment with no excuses.

Jesus was asking them, “Are you in? Or are you out?”

Jesus asks us that same question: Are we in? There is a sense of urgency in His question. He needs our help now more than ever. Do we choose to take on the important work of Jesus Christ even when it is not convenient? Will we “go and proclaim” in both word and deed?

Only a few will step forward, and those that do realize it will mean hardship and sacrifice. It will take courage. In addressing this challenge, Pope Francis said, “Go on! Be courageous and go against the tide…and be proud of doing it!”

But First

September 27, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

And to another Jesus said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”  (Luke 9:51-56)

BUT FIRST: In today’s gospel, word had spread about Jesus and he had people interested in becoming his disciples. Jesus offered them the opportunity, calling them to follow. Their immediate response was to make an excuse: “I want to follow you, but something else is a priority right now.”

Many potential disciples opted not to follow Jesus. His teachings were too difficult. He asked too much of them. They were focused on their own needs and lost sight of what was most important.

In order to follow Jesus, we have to stop thinking worldly thoughts. We must move forward and never look back. We have to think and act as Jesus and keep our eye on the ultimate prize of heaven.

God calls all of us, not just once in a lifetime, but day after day. Are we prepared to hear the call and answer it, or do we have other priorities?

Least Among You

September 26, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

“For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.” (Luke 9:46-50)

LEAST AMONG YOU: This is not the only time Jesus tells us to put others first. On the surface, it seems like a pretty simple directive. However, it can prove to be quite difficult to implement.

I know what it means to put others first, but my ego can often get in the way. Oftentimes I benefit from doing something for others. It makes me feel good, or others acknowledge my service or affirm my generous spirit. I like when that happens. Is it wrong to feel like I am benefitting from serving others?

Am I doing this for others, or am I doing it for me?

I think it is easiest to reconcile this question by asking another question: Is what I am doing being done with a servant’s heart? If my actions come from a place of love, and my intent is to serve others, I am following Jesus’ directive.

If I receive a side benefit of public affirmation or feeling good about myself, it is Jesus’ way of encouraging me to continue doing His work.