Friday, September 20, 2013

Thoughts on the “Parable of the Unjust Steward”

This Sunday's Gospel contains a parable which is notorious for its apparent oddity. In Luke 16:1-13, Jesus appears to be praising an “unjust” or “dishonest” steward and even asking his disciples to imitate his behavior!

What are we to make of this? Often the difficulty in our understanding of Jesus' parables (and scripture generally) is that we forget that they were originally meant for an audience with a very different culture than our own—and differences in the way we look at things can drastically affect how we understand the parable.

We'll step through the parable, but first we have to discuss some facts that I believe will provide us with an interpretive key.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Homily from our Holy Hour for Peace

The Holy Father has asked us to keep 7 September as a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria, the Middle East and the entire world. Saturday at the parish, though, was already filled up with funerals and other previously scheduled goings on long before the Holy Father's announcement. I was, however, scheduled to preside at our monthly First Friday Holy Hour tonight (6 Sept), so I took the opportunity to answer to Pope's call by dedicating our time of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament to the Holy Father's intentions for peace.

The following is the sermon I preached at the Holy Hour, with some thoughts on Christ, his peace and our call as peacemakers:

The longing for peace is among the deepest desires of the human heart. It should come as no surprise then that peace figures greatly among God’s promises as contained in Holy Scripture. From the time of the Old Covenant, God, through the prophets, promised peace to the Hebrew people if they would heed his word.

The prophet Isaiah famously proclaims God’s vision of a time when swords will be pounded into plough-shares and nations will no longer train for war (Isaiah 2:3-4). The Lord promises that he will lead many peoples to the mountain of the Lord, that he will teach them his ways and that they will walk in his paths and, as a result, “nation shall not lift up sword against nation."

That promise to personally bring peace to all peoples came to a fulfillment when, in the fullness of time, God himself took on flesh in the person of Jesus Christ through him reconciled all things for God, making peace by the blood of his cross, as St. Paul says in his letter to the Colossians (Col. 1:20).

So, it seems appropriate that as we gather here in hope of that promise, bringing before Jesus in his Eucharistic presence our prayers for peace, that we examine more deeply the nature of the peace to which he calls us and to which the scriptures so often refer. We tend to think of peace simply as an absence of war…yet the biblical notion of peace is a far deeper, a far more profound concept.

The Hebrew word “shalom” that is translated “peace” in the Old Testament derives from the Hebrew root for “whole.” Shalom is about the fulfillment of purpose—about the way things are supposed to be. To greet someone with “shalom” is literally to wish for them every good thing. St. Augustine captures this spirit beautifully in his City of God when he says that "peace is the calm that comes from order" (XIX:13).

In pursuing peace, then, we pursue right order for ourselves and for the world.

However, we must be careful. In our Gospel this evening, Jesus makes a contrast between the peace that he has come to give—the true ‘shalom’ of God—and the peace of the world. In Jesus’ time and, in fact, among his own disciples there was a common belief that the peace of God that the Messiah would bring would follow a great military victory against the oppressors of the Jewish people. When his disciples gathered together with him after the resurrection they ask him pointedly:  “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)

The disciples’ concept of peace had been profoundly skewed by the society around them. They felt that, through God’s intervention, they would finally gain peace by trading places with their oppressors--by finally inheriting the worldly means that they expected to make them secure.

Instead this false hope of material security, Jesus reaffirms the promise of the spirit and sends them out as witnesses “in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The peace they desire will come not through violence or power but through the Good News—the news that God has reconciled the world to himself in love—and they will bear that news even at the cost of their own martyrdom.

The order that brings true and lasting peace corresponds, not to human wisdom, but to the wisdom of God—a wisdom revealed most fully in the person of Jesus Christ.

We, as today’s disciples, need to examine ourselves as well. Is our idea of peace rooted in Christ or is it rooted in political power and military might? It is so tempting to answer violence with violence, to rely on strength of arms to solve our problems. Our Holy Father Pope Francis, in last Sunday’s Angelus address, warns us to turn away from such counterproductive notions:
“I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.

With all my strength, I ask each party in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close themselves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and decisively and courageously to follow the path of encounter and negotiation, and so overcome blind conflict. With similar vigour I exhort the international community to make every effort to promote clear proposals for peace in that country without further delay, a peace based on dialogue and negotiation.”
It would seem so much easier to simply ‘flex our muscles’—to enforce peace by the sword instead of engaging in tiresome dialog with people who have already shown their commitment to violence. We must resist that temptation with all of our strength.

Recall that the Roman Empire in the time of Christ was simply enforcing what historians call the Pax Romana, the great Roman Peace. They saw themselves as using the most expedient means available by suppressing conflicts at the point of their swords. Yet it is at the point of those same swords that many of the Martyrs perished. It was in the name of peace and domestic tranquility that the troublesome Christians were fed to the beasts in the arena. Their blood soaked the earth in the name of that great Roman Peace.

Likewise, Christ himself fell victim to the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate who were all too willing to keep their so-called peace by any means necessary. “Do you not consider,” asks Caiaphas “that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish?” The ends justified the means. It was thus that they crucified the Righteous One, the Lord of Glory Himself.

Should not we, who were redeemed in the precious blood that flowed from that Cross, be the last to raise our voices in the name of violence? Should not we, whose home is the Church nourished in the blood of the Holy Martyrs be the first to for call peace? Should not we, who are the inheritors of that faith appropriately called Catholic or Universal, be the quickest to insist that national, tribal and sectarian violence has no place in our world?

Certainly there are times, as the Church herself teaches, that one must turn to the tools of war for defense. Yet we, as Catholic Christians, recognize this as the means of last resort—only to be pursued when all other means have failed and, even then, with a heavy heart—with prayer and supplication to the Lord that such a bitter chalice might pass from us.

It is to that end that we are here tonight: to entreat the Lord in his Divine Mercy to allow peace to reign in our world, especially in the war-torn nation of Syria. We ask the Lord, as well, to continue to transform our hearts so that we may recognize the truth in the Holy Father’s words as he says:
“I repeat forcefully: it is neither a culture of confrontation nor a culture of conflict which builds harmony within and between peoples, but rather a culture of encounter and a culture of dialogue; this is the only way to peace.”

We gather together tonight in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament to pray that the Lord, by his grace, will transform us into true peacemakers—in our prayer, in our attitudes, in our relations with one another. Finally we gather together tonight because we, of all people in the world, recognize the true source of peace: Jesus Christ, Our Lord. It is in the light of that faith that we can proclaim together with St. Paul:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:4-7)

May the Lord grant that peace that surpasses all understanding to us, to our leaders, to our brothers and sisters in war-torn Syria and may he make us instruments of that peace in our world. Thought Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Small change coming to a baptism near you...someday

A recently published newsletter from the Congregation for Divine Worship (the liturgy folks at the Holy See) included a decree that went relatively unnoticed at its release in February. From Catholic News Agency:
After having baptized a child, the minister will now receive him, saying, “The Church of God welcomes you with great joy,” according to a Feb. 22 decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship signed by Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect, and Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary.
Apparently it was approved by Pope Benedict in late January and the change took effect in the Latin typical edition on 31 March.

Those of us who are ministers of Baptism (even if we've only performed a few!) are familiar with the English words as they are today: "N., the Christian community welcomes you with great joy..." We say these words just before claiming the catechumen with the sign of the cross on their forehead.

So, two words...what's the big deal?

It makes explicit who is doing the welcoming. The words "Christian community" could mean a number of things but I think that in the context of a small group of people gathered in a cozy suburban parish church for an infant baptism, they give the impression that it is the parish that is doing the welcoming. In fact, as the CNA article points out, the Italian translation (unlike the English) inserts the word "our", making it "our Christian community"--the Italian translators certainly felt this 'local church emphasis' in the words.

Of course, the local church does welcome the catechumen. Yet in a Catholic baptism something far more profound than simply becoming a 'member' of a local church community is going on. As Catholics, our story is a universal story. As the readings for today (the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C) emphasize in both the first reading and the Gospel, God is calling people from the corners of the earth to become a new people.

It is that whole people, the entire Church of God, that is welcoming the catechumen into their midst. Baptism is, in this sense, the ultimate example of 'thinking globally and acting locally': while we, the local church, receive this new disciple, we recognize that he or she is not just a member of a local congregation but of a worldwide family--a family that is gathered by God himself and which participates in the graces of this particular celebration. In a mysterious way the graces poured out in some little suburban church in America flow all the way to persecuted Christians struggling for their lives in Egypt and to 'underground' congregations in China.

They share in one and the same story.

Unfortunately, it will likely be a while before we see the change in English. Our Rite of Baptism is one of the most outdated of all of the English liturgical texts. We are still waiting for the ICEL to incorporate a few decades of other updates to put the text in line with the current Roman Missal.


So while we will still say "Christian community" for the time being, it might behoove us to incorporate a little more catechesis on the Church of God in our preaching and teaching on baptism. People need to know that when even a tiny pebble of faith encounters those hallowed waters, the ripples extend further than we can imagine--even to the farthest shore.
I know their works and their thoughts,
and I come to gather nations of every language;
they shall come and see my glory.
I will set a sign among them;
from them I will send fugitives to the nations:
to Tarshish, Put and Lud, Mosoch, Tubal and Javan,
to the distant coastlands
that have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory;
and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations.
They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all the nations
as an offering to the LORD,
on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries,
to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the LORD,
just as the Israelites bring their offering
to the house of the LORD in clean vessels.
Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the LORD.

Isaiah 66:18-21 (First reading for the 21t Sunday in O.T., Year C)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Argentine prisoner makes hosts for the Pope's Masses

A reminder that those who may have made bad, even horrendous, choices may still have much to contribute to the sanctification of the world--if only we give them the opportunity.

From CNA:
Since July 18, Pope Francis has been celebrating Mass each day in the chapel at St. Martha's Residence with hosts made by a woman in prison in Argentina.

Pope Francis sent a letter to the woman, known as “Gaby C,” thanking her for a previous letter that she had sent him. “I thank you for confiding in me...and for the hosts,” the Holy Father wrote on July 17. “Starting tomorrow I will celebrate Mass with them and I assure you that I am moved. Your letter made me think, and it has led me to pray for you...but it gives me joy and assures me that you are praying for me.”

“May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin care for you,” Pope Francis told her, adding that he keeps the photos she sent in his office.

Some words about grief

...from someone who knows of what she speaks:
Many Christians propose answers – it was their time, it’s all part of God’s plan, etc. Yet none of those really help with the grieving. None of those sufficiently explains why a faithful woman, a young healthy man, or an innocent little child leave us. The truth is we live in a messed up world. In this world, innocent children die every day in accidents, from disease, or at the hands of another. In this world, killers roam free, addicts savor their next score and evil permeates the world. As Christians, we know that this world is not our stopping point.
Read the rest at my wife's blog.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Mexico archdiocese investigating possible Eucharistic miracle

via Catholic News Agency, Mexico archdiocese investigating possible Eucharistic miracle :: Catholic News Agency (CNA):
With local people gathered at 3 p.m., he recounted that he “approached the tabernacle and upon opening it the host consecrated by Our Lord Jesus Christ was covered in blood.”
Of course, there will be an the Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Guadalajara explained:
“The Catholic Church’s legal doctrine states that when an extraordinary, uncommon event occurs, the necessary precautions should be taken to determine if the event can be explained by natural causes or if a more serious investigation is necessary to determine if it goes beyond the natural and whether or not it should be considered a miraculous event”

An interesting story. I am glad to see that it will receive a thorough scientific examination...we shall see what they discover.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Contra the politicization of Christianity

A great post by Rebecca Hamilton on Patheos regarding the ongoing efforts of Christians to align Christ to their favorite ideologies:
 Before Christians can engage the larger culture they’ve first got to be all-in for Jesus. That appears to be a major stumbling block for a lot of people. These ridiculous designations of “conservative” and “progressive” Christians are a symptom and an expression of just how far away we are from actually following Christ, or even taking Him seriously at all.

In today’s America, “conservative” and “progressive” are political terms. If we were being honest, we’d just dispense with those terms and say what we mean. On the one side we have people who twist the Gospels to justify themselves for following right wing politics instead of following Jesus, and on the other side, we have people who twist the Gospels to justify themselves for following left wing politics instead of following Jesus.

They are, both of them, following the world instead of following Jesus. And they are claiming that Jesus not only supports them in this, but He is following them.
Read the rest over there.

But before you go, listen to this music video that accurately captures my sentiments on the matter:

For the 'Super Cool' File - Baby declared dead ‘comes back to life’ after being placed on chapel altar

via LifeSiteNews:

Family members and medical personnel at a hospital in Lindrina, Brazil, say they are stunned after a baby declared dead apparently came back to life after being placed on the altar in the hospital’s chapel.

According to local news sources, Yasmin Gomes was born premature earlier this month, and almost immediately stopped breathing. Doctors attempted for nearly an hour to revive the girl, who weighed only 2.6 pounds, but after their attempts failed they declared the baby dead and issued a death certificate.

The altar where the little girl lay for three hours, before being discovered to be alive.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

May God continue to bless the Carmelite Sisters!

On the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (July 16) the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles had two sisters make their first professions and four young women enter into the novitiate.

See the slideshows for the first professions and entrance into the novitiate on their website!

I can tell you from personal experience that these are a group of wonderful, faithful women who are a true blessing to the Church. All four of my children attended the preschool that they used to have here in the Antelope Valley. The witness of these dedicated disciples who always wore a habit and a smile even in the 100+ degree heat of the Mojave desert was an inspiration to me and was an instrumental part of my journey from catechumen to clergyman. There is no way that God could ever reward them enough for the blessings that they have brought to me and my family.

So, Te Deum Laudamus on on their new growth:

First Professions
Sister Gianna, OCD
Sister Maria Goretti, OCD

New Novices
Gabriela Batres (now Sister Maria Augustine of the Holy Family, OCD)
Cygnet Custodio (now Sister Anita Mary of the Blessed Trinity, OCD)
Melissa Ponce (now Sister Luisa Graciela of the Holy Eucharist, OCD)
Noemy Bañuelos (now Sister Marianna of the Heart of Christ, OCD)

Seven more for the Kingdom of God

I had the great grace of celebrating the monthly infant baptisms today at our parish, Sacred Heart in Lancaster, CA. I an happy to report that there are now seven new new members of the body of Christ--members who bring with them the innocence, hope and joy that come with childhood.

Now, at first glance seven little ones being baptized doesn't seem like a very newsworthy event. When we talk or write about 'events' in the Church we tend to focus on the comings and goings of the Holy Father, things said and done by the cardinals, gossip from the Roman curia, etc. Seven baptisms in a parish in the middle of the Mojave desert doesn't seem like a big deal.

It just goes to show how far we are away from God's way of seeing.

All of the various goings-on in the Church are interesting, yet the scriptures say that the holy angels rejoice over the salvation of human souls (Lk.15:10). Jesus rebukes the disciples for not recognizing the value of little children (Mk. 10:13-16) and he insists that it is even with the least of disciples that the forces and powers of the heavenly kingdom are most concerned:
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father." (Mt. 18:10)
So, let us rejoice with the angels and the saints in paradise! Seven new souls have begun their relationship with God, have been joined to Christ Jesus, have been filled with the Holy Spirit!

In the order of grace, this is the very definition of big news.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"We are accompanied and supported by the Angels of God"

Pope Emeritus Benedict joined Pope Francis on July 5th in consecrating Vatican City to St. Michael the Archangel during a blessing of a statue of St. Michael in the Vatican Gardens:

An excerpt from the Holy Father's address:
"We are not alone on the journey or in the trials of life, we are accompanied and supported by the Angels of God, who offer, so to speak, their wings to help us overcome so many dangers, in order to fly high compared to those realities that can weigh down our lives or drag us down. In consecrating Vatican City State to St. Michael the Archangel, I ask him to defend us from the evil one and banish him."
Read the whole text on the Vatican Radio site.

JPII's Second Miracle

From a LaStampa article comes the story of Blessed Pope John Paul II's second miracle, a woman with an inoperable brain aneurysm who was completely healed after appealing to for the pontiff's intercession during his beatification ceremony:
Floribeth has not felt any pain in her head since. And never will.  “A visit to the neurologist and two MRI scans later (one on 11 November 2011 and one on 16 May 2012), the aneurysm has completely disappeared and the woman has made a full recovery.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Drama of Sin and Redemption

...played out almost as 'participatory theater':

I baptized my very first person yesterday and it was an event that I won't soon forget. I was out at the Challenger Memorial Youth Center and one of the young men scheduled to depart this next week had been preparing for baptism. The plan was to baptize him during our weekly communion service. I was able to execute that plan, but just barely.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Sermon for First Friday Holy Hour - Interior Freedom

Below is the text of the sermon I gave tonight at our monthly First Friday Holy Hour on interior freedom. For your reference the readings used were the 'wondrous river' passage from Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:1-9) and the 'rich young man' passage from Matthew's Gospel (Mt. 19:16-30). Also, in the interest of authorial honesty, the portions in brackets were taken with minimal modification from a great little article called "True Freedom is Interior" by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J. on Homiletic and Pastoral Review (because borrowing things for sermons is what homiletics magazines are for!)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Diary from the real life case behind The Exorcist

From a news story occasioned by the 40th anniversary of the release of The Exorcist, a news station in St. Louis has provided an electronic copy of the diary/case study kept by Father Raymond J. Bishop, S.J who was part of the real-life 1949 exorcism case that became the basis for The Exorcist.

Read the diary.

Now, realize that there is profound evil in the world that effects all of us. Rarely, it manifests in dramatic ways such as this case. Its ordinary manifestations are far more banal: doubt, temptation, etc. Yet those more ordinary manifestations flow from the same praeternatural hatred and are just as dangerous, if not more so.

Yet the Lord is stronger still.

Remember that today is Friday and we recall in a special way the sacrifice of the cross that, once and for all, broke the power of death and hell forever. Live in that sacrifice today...and every day.
“Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last,the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld." (Rev. 1:17-18)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

"If justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing."

God does not keep score.

Let me simply say that up front, lest anyone be confused. I meet too many Catholics who still envision God their Father with some kind of heavenly grade book keeping a tally of their good deeds and their bad deeds and checking the balance to see if they are O.K. They try to do good deeds in the hope of making up for the bad ones. They look at every downturn in their lives as a kind of divine punishment for their misdeeds.

This is the kind of thinking that Pope Francis apparently took issue with in his private remarks to representatives of CLAR. We are busy tallying our sins and tallying our prayers. We have replaced the 613 commandments of the Old Law with some new ones of our own creation.

Today, St. Paul says knock it off:

Friday, June 14, 2013

Obscure Saint of the Day: St. Joseph the Hymnographer

On days like today, when there is no particular saint being celebrated liturgically in the General Roman Calendar,I like to look up the more obscure saints whose feast falls today. The saints that we celebrate in the liturgy are only a small fraction of those recognized by the church and every day has many holy men and women associated with it. Today has no less than 26.

"We hold this treasure in earthen vessels..."

Today, St. Paul reminds us:
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the Body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pope Francis vs. Adolescent Progressivism

[via CNA]

The progress of the Church can be hindered by the dual temptations of wanting to remain in the past and “adolescent progressivism,” Pope Francis said.

The danger of a progressive approach to the Holy Spirit is that believers becomes “like teenagers who in their enthusiasm want to have everything, and in the end? You slip up…”

Pope Francis and Synodality

via Andrea Tornielli @ Vatican Insider, a 'heads up' on some forthcoming activity from Pope Francis.

While I'm sure that the biggest buzz will be regarding the forthcoming encyclical, the piece that I find most interesting and most hopeful is the discussion of increased synodality.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Today's Readings: "I have come not to abolish but to fulfill."

[Today's readings at USCCB]

In today's Gospel reading Jesus declares that he has not "come to abolish the law or the prophets", but to fulfill them. What exactly does this mean?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"I'll share two worries of mine...": Unverified, unscripted comments from Pope Francis

A yet to be verified post from the a Chilean website has reports of comments made by Francis during his private meeting with the Religious Confederation of Latin America and the Caribbean (CLAR). See Rocco Palmo's article at Whispers in the Loggia for more details, but the thing that really stuck out for me was the Holy Father's reported concerns for the Church.

Cardinal George: "The state has a right to supervise but not to redefine an institution it did not create"

Francis Cardinal George has a column up on Catholic New World with his reflections on the public debate over "same sex marriage." Some key thoughts from the Cardinal:

"The plausibility of the legislative proposal to create a marriage based on sexual relations between people of the same sex comes from a cultural shift regarding marriage. Many, unfortunately, now see marriage only as a private, two-person relationship based on love and sexual attraction rather than as a public social institution governing family life."

Monday, June 10, 2013

On a personal note

[Update 6/11/13: I was informed that the info I received last night was incorrect and that the camp closures below are only temporary for the repair of damage caused during the fires. They should reopen in a few months]

I just received news that, after being evacuated due to the Powerhouse fire, the two probation camps at which I have been ministering for the last eight years will likely be closing, with the populations consolidated at another facility. The closure likely has less to do with the fire than with budget and staff issues--the evacuation just provided a convenient moment to make it happen.

Of course, I know the chaplain at the facility to which the boys will be sent and I'll be in contact to offer up my services if he requires them. But, there is a sadness that the place where I first found my vocation as a preacher will now be only a memory...but life goes on.

On a different note: this blog has now reached its own milestone. I have had both my first supportive commenter and my first capital-letter-using-anonymous-troll commenter. That means that this place is officially open for business!

Archbishop Gomez's Statement on Immigration

As Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Committee on Migration, the Archbishop has released a new statement on immigration reform that is both concise and insightful.

The bottom line from the document:

Without positive change to our immigration laws, we cannot help our brothers and sisters. Simply put, the status quo is morally unacceptable. This suffering must end.

Against a culture of 'ritual purity'

Normally, when I see articles in the ongoing 'speaker wars' where various people are up in arms about the views of some speaker scheduled to appear at some Catholic institution I pass on with a shrug to other more pressing matters. However an article I saw today from LifeSiteNews (h/t Mark Shea) was different, not because of its content but because of the speaker it was referencing.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Pope Francis: "The mercy of Jesus is not just sentiment"

From today's Sunday Angelus address:

But the mercy of Jesus is not just sentiment: indeed it is a force that gives life, that raises man up! [This Sunday]’s Gospel tells us this as well, in the episode of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17). Jesus, with his disciples, is just arrived in Nain, a village in Galilee, at the very moment in which a funeral is taking place. a boy is buried, the only son of a widow. Jesus’ gaze immediately fixes itself on the weeping mother. The evangelist Luke says: “Seeing her, the Lord was moved with great compassion for her (v. 13).” This “compassion” is the love of God for man, it is mercy, i.e. the attitude of God in contact with human misery, with our poverty, our suffering, our anguish. The biblical term “compassion” recalls the maternal viscera: a mother, in fact, experiences a reaction all her own, to the pain of her children. In this way does God love us, the Scripture says.

Homily for Sunday June 9th

Did you know that some people miss Heaven by 18 inches?

That distance, 18 inches, is the average distance between the human head and the human heart. When we don't allow our faith to make that final journey of a foot and a half, to spill over from our minds into our hearts, we miss the Kingdom of Heaven—we miss the reality that “God has visited his people” and that He continues to visit his people in the real, concrete acts of love that we do for to one another.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Mary, Mother of Deacons

Today is the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Naturally enough, when we hear this title we immediately think of her Immaculate Conception--about Mary's freedom from sin from the moment of her conception. However for me, I think that the most important thing about the Immaculate Heart is not what it is free from, but with what it is filled...

A new identity and a new blog...

Today, June 8th, 2013, marks the culmination of a long journey and the start of a new one.

This morning I was ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacon for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. By the laying on of hands of our Archbishop, I have been given a new, permanent identity as a cleric in the Catholic Church. So, I thought that this moment of transition where one journey ends and another begins would be a good time to re-think my social media identity as well.