We Cannot Give What We Have Not Received

February 12, 2018

I will be leading a faith formation session for school staff today, and will be sharing the following information taken from an article entitled, “The Secret of the Authentic Catholic School”:

A Catholic school will, sooner or later, be a reflection of the level of personal faith development of individual staff members.

If you have a school full of staff members who have individual lives of prayer and sacrament then that is going to flow into all that they do. It will impact their interactions with students as well as with colleagues. A Catholic school where people pray is simply a more joyful place to work. When Catholic schools try to survive upon purely human capacities then it eventually descends into various forms of burnout. And burnout soon enough leads to cynicism. Continue reading

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Jesus Loves Simply, Mercifully, and Equally

February 10, 2018

I spoke at a men’s retreat recently and one thing I had stated at that retreat was that “Jesus does not love us all the same; He loves us equally. He provides each of us with what we, as individuals, need.”

I shared the content of my talk with my wife, Carol. The next day, she shared a reflection from Word Among Us that offered a similar perspective:

It may not be easy, but it is simple. Jesus loves you. Not because you do the right things. (No one is perfect.) Not because you embrace every one of his teachings. (Everyone struggles with at least one commandment.) And not because you have shown yourself to be better than other people. (God’s rain falls on the just and unjust alike.) No, Jesus loves you because he looks into your heart and sees how “very good” it is (Genesis 1:31). He looks past the hurts, the resentments, and the unconfessed sin, and peers right into the center of who you are.
 
It’s right there, in the center, that Jesus sees the love he has placed in you. He sees your desire to please the Lord. He sees the goodness and purity that God created you with. And what he sees pierces his heart with love. With joy. With compassion. It’s this gaze that can melt our hearts and teach us to love as he does—simply, mercifully, and equally.

 

They “ran to their crosses”

February 6, 2018 – Memorial of St. Paul Miki and companions

When the first missionaries, like St. Francis Xavier, came to Japan in 1549 they were welcomed. Many Japanese became Christians. When the leader Hideyoshi took command, he feared that Christians would take over the government. In 1587 he banished them and destroyed many of their churches. Some missionary priests stayed and went into hiding, dressing like Japanese in order to minister to the Christians.

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More than 3,000 Christians were martyred in Japan. On December 8, 1596, Hideyoshi arrested and condemned to death the friars of Miako. Among them were three Japanese Jesuits, six Franciscans (four of them Spanish), and seventeen Japanese laymen. Charged with attempting to harm the government, they were sentenced to crucifixion.

The twenty-six men were tortured and then forced to walk more than 300 miles from Miako to Nagasaki through snow and ice and freezing streams. Along the way they preached to the people who had come out to see them. They sang psalms of praise and joy. They prayed the rosary and told the people that such a martyrdom was an occasion of rejoicing, not of sadness. Finally, on February 5, they reached Nagasaki, where twenty-six crosses awaited them on a hill now called the Holy Mountain. It is said that the Christians ran to their crosses, singing. Soldiers bound them to the crosses with iron bands at their wrists, ankles, and throats. Then they thrust them through with lances. Many people came to watch the cruel deaths. Hideyoshi and his solders had hoped the example would frighten other Christians. Instead, it gave them the courage to profess their faith as the martyrs had.

In 1858, Japan again permitted Christianity in Japan. Missionaries found thousands of Christians still in Japan. For two hundred years they had carried on the faith in secret.

Paul Miki was born in Japan and educated by the Jesuits. He would have been the very first Japanese priest if he had escaped arrest, for he had already completed his studies for the priesthood. From his cross he forgave his persecutors and told the people to ask Christ to show them how to be truly happy.

Source: https://www.loyolapress.com/our-catholic-faith/saints/saints-stories-for-all-ages/saint-paul-miki-and-companions

Share Your “Distractions” With God

January 29, 2018

In his homily at St. Pius X yesterday, Fr. Jim talked about being distracted in prayer. He shared how even he, a priest and “professional pray-er” often found himself getting distracted while praying.

I think everyone can relate to this; I know it happens to me. As we pray, our minds wander to things we need to do later in the day, concerns we have for family members, a problem we are still dealing with from the day before, etc.

Fr. Jim’s strategy was to have paper and pen nearby, and write down those distractions as they popped up – to help clear his mind for continued prayer. However, while speaking with his spiritual director, he was offered a different perspective.

She told him: “If those ‘distractions’ are popping up in your mind, they must be important to you. If they are important to you, they are important to God. Bring the distractions with you to prayer.”

Prayer is more than just the recitation of memorized words. Prayer is a personal sharing with God – “God, this is what is on my mind. This is who I am. Help me talk through and resolve the worries, concerns, and stresses that consume me.”

God wants to be a part of your life…every part of your life.

Options for Life: An Adoption Story

January 22, 2018 – Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

Today is the anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision. I thought it would be fitting to present this beautiful adoption story. I again thank BCHS teacher Amanda Horan, who shared her story at a pro-life prayer service at Bishop Chatard a few years ago.   

There is not much better than the perfection of a brand new baby.

My husband and I had been married for more than 6 years when we decided that it was time to start a family. We assumed that it would be easy. After all, people have been having babies for thousands of years. We were perfectly healthy. There was no reason to believe we would have trouble.

Yet, weeks, months and years passed without progress. I struggled through some of the worst times of my life as I watched jealously while everyone around me got pregnant, had their baby, and in some cases, even got pregnant a second time without any change in my own situation. News stories about a baby abandoned in Eagle Creek Park or a trash can brought me to tears, as did each new pregnancy announcement. I even remember crying silently in the back of these bleachers during another pro-life week, as topics like abortion are difficult to understand when all that you want is the chance to be a mother. Continue reading

Protect All Vulnerable Life

January 20, 2018

The annual March fro Life was held in Washington, DC yesterday. The following is a excerpt from a homily delivered by Cardinal Timothy Dolan at the Vigil for Life Mass on Thursday night:

“Our belief in the dignity of the human person and sacredness of all human life propels us to concern for human life wherever, whenever, and however it is threatened, from racial antagonism to justice for immigrants, from the war torn to the hungry.

Our elected representatives, executive and legislative, and the judiciary they appoint, need to see, and hear, and feel the grassroots power, our sincere voices and our passion for a society to assist and protect all vulnerable life.”

Source: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pray-against-powers-of-darkness-cardinal-dolan-tells-pro-life-marchers-90543?platform=hootsuite

Friendly reminder about Mass obligations

December 22, 2017

There are two separate obligations that must be fulfilled for the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Sunday, Dec. 24) and Christmas (Monday, Dec. 25). Given that Christmas falls the day after the Fourth Sunday of Advent this year, the expectation might be confusing to some.

The Sunday obligation can be fulfilled by going to Mass on Saturday evening (Dec. 23) or anytime on Sunday (Dec. 24). The Christmas obligation can be fulfilled by going to Mass on Sunday evening or anytime on Monday (Dec. 25). So, to give two examples, the faithful may attend a Christmas Eve Vigil Mass to fulfill the Sunday obligation and then go to a Christmas Day Mass on Monday to fulfill the Christmas obligation; or attend Mass on Sunday morning, Christmas Eve, to fulfill the Fourth Sunday of Advent obligation and then attend the Christmas Eve Vigil Mass that evening to fulfill the Christmas obligation. (If this combination is chosen, the Eucharist may be received at both Masses, providing those are the only two instances of receiving the Lord in the Eucharist that day.)

No matter how it is accomplished, the key is that the two obligations must be fulfilled separately.
Source: https://todayscatholic.org/obligations-fourth-sunday-advent-christmas/