Posts Tagged ‘#Study’

Pass the Salt …. Please!

July 8, 2017

In the United States, Independence Day, which is a national holiday, fell on a Tuesday. As it turns out, I also received a Jury Summons for Monday. Now, for those who are not from the United States, or who might not be familiar, I will explain at least on a surface level, the Jury Summons.

In the United States, if you are accused of a crime, you have the right to a trial by a group of citizens who are called to sit through the trial proceedings, and are given some instructions on the law that has been supposedly broken, and then that group of people decide the guilt or innocence of the person or group that is on trial.

It is part of our duty as citizens, when called upon to serve. We receive a letter from the court (Summons) to show up on a day and time, to see if we will be selected to serve as a person ( juror) in the group that determines the guilt or innocence during the trial.

Needless to say, it is something you are required to do as a citizen, unless there is some compelling reason why you can not serve. Among some, there are jokes about how to get out of doing this type of service. In some cases it is blatantly obvious who is trying to get out of the service, but did not want to get in trouble for not showing up. I see this service as part of a moral obligation to not only
help provide morally correct justice for the parties involved, but also, because this is part of our duty,” to render unto Caesar, that which belongs to Caesar”.

I have received five such calls to service. In that time, I have never been selected to sit in on a trial. By and large, the day ends up with me being sent home after spending a rather long day sitting in a room with approximately 100 other citizens from all walks of life.

The courthouse where I reported for duty is, interestingly not far from a church that is there to serve the downtown area. Since I was let go a bit early, I thought to myself, this is a perfect opportunity to go to Mass that would be starting shortly..

I have worked near the downtown area previously and enjoyed the opportunity to attend a noontime Holy Mass. So I hastened to the church where I arrived shortly before the 2nd Reading. I have to confess that I honestly do not remember what the second reading or the Gospel was (hanging my head).

I can tell you something that stuck with me about the Homily. First, I have to tell you though, the Holy Mass was being con-celebrated by two Franciscan friars, and admittedly it did my heart good to see friars since I do not get that opportunity often as of late.

Anyway, the thing that stuck in my head was a story that the homilist was telling about his days as a novice, and how it was that one of the Novice Masters was a former Trappist Monk. One day while they were sitting there at a meal, the Novice Master explained that in his former life, they were not to speak even at meals, and so they had to sign for the salt if that was what they wanted.. As time went on , and they got to know the individual monk, they just knew that is was needed and it would be passed to them.

This calls to mind 2 different passages. The first, being Genesis 4: 9 and the second is Luke 11:5 .
In Genesis 4:9 is the telling of the story and Cain and Able, ”
Then the LORD asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Here we are reminded , in fact, that we are held to account for what happens to our brothers and sisters in this life. Much like the Trappist monk, we as Franciscans who live and work in the world , and even for those who are not Franciscans, we are called to strive to learn and understand the needs of our brothers and sisters, who are not in the same place as we are, but who have the same basic needs that we do, and to work to provide the basic needs of our brothers and sisters. Even so, that they do not have to ask us. We as we progress in faith, will, like the monks, begin to understand and through insight, be able to know what those are, and to work towards being the conduit of the graces that we have received.

The second reading is from Luke 11:5-8 ”
And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him, and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’
I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. ”

The story behind this story is that Christ is teaching the disciples about prayer and the importance in persistence in prayer. There is another facet here, however, as it relates to this story.

The man who is in need is going to his friend, his brother, and asking for not only food, to provide to his guest, but is seeking mercy from his brother. Jesus never says if the man got up to provide the requested bread or not. What is clear however, is that just as the monk who is asking for the salt for his meal, the man in the parable who is asking for bread, has a need. We as brothers and sisters, have the capacity to share our graces, our blessings, our very selves with our brothers and sisters.

At the end of days, when we stand before the Throne of the Almighty, and He asks that same question to us “Where is your brother ?” We will have nothing there to answer, except … ” see I have brought him with me…”

May God give you the gift His peace !

Lather….Rinse… Repeat !

July 1, 2017

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God !
Yet that it what we are. The reason the world does not recognize us is that it never recognized the Son. Dearly beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall later be has not yet come to light. We know that when it comes to light, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope based on Him keeps himself pure, as He is pure.” ( 1 John 3: 1-3 )

Some of you who might not be aware, 1st John, ( also second, and third ), come near the end of the New Testament and is not part and parcel of the 4th Gospel. This letter, written by John, was written during a time when the church was going through a period of heresy. Particularly Gnosticism, which denied the humanity of Jesus. or Docetism. In the docetistic heresy, the followers believe that Jesus was purely divine, his body made almost ghostly and so his passion death and resurrection would have been purely appearance sake.

Today, we have a vast number of heresies and different versions of apostasy. In Johns time it was no different. there were people roaming about preaching all kinds of whacky stuff. In Johns letters, and particularly in this letter there was a certain thematic progress to them. These were meant to drive home the principles of Christian faith and life.

Sometimes we need a little reminding of the things that are important in our faith lives.
It is important that we study. It is important that we memorize our faith, our beliefs and it is vitally important that we not only BELIEVE , but that we know WHY we believe the things we do, and where those things come from.

Priests, and Deacons when they go through formation , they take classes in the practice of exegesis.
Exegesis is simply the process of reading, studying, asking questions, and then finding the answers to those questions in preparation for sharing that information with others.

This practice is not just for priests and deacons. It is something that everyone should be doing. Now, i am not saying everyone should go out and get their own interpretation of what the Bible says or anything of that sort. What I am however saying, is take a good long hard look at your faith life. Consider all the things that you believe, and then start asking the questions. Not the easy ones.. not the ones you might have learned in the Baltimore Catechism, or in some of your nursery school rhymes. Lets tackle something with a little meat on it. Let’s ask some of the hard questions that you don’t have answers for. READ and STUDY and figure things out. What you will find is that you will inevitably have MORE QUESTIONS…. When you find you do not have answers, then go and ask your pastor, or a clergy or lay person you trust.

You need to keep asking questions. My father used to say to people.. “What ever it is that you are ( meaning your faith ), then be the very best ( that faith person ) that you can be. Ask the hard questions, and keep asking them until you are satisfied with the answers.

John, is telling us in this passage, we need to realize the awesome gift that we have been given, as children of God. The reason we suffer persecution in the world is because they who are not Christian, do not recognize Jesus as the Son of God.

Further on in these letters John reminds his audience, to break from sin, to keep the commandments, to become detatched from the world ( be IN the world, but not OF the world.). and finally to be on guard against the enemies of Christ. By this he means to be weary of those who would try to lead you away from your faith.

Today, the world is in great need of saints. It is every single Christians vocation to be a great saint. It is up to us to choose to fulfill the plan that God has intended for us.

My prayer for each of you is that the Holy Spirit that dwells within your bosom be enflamed in your heart, and become a raging inferno in seeking Gods holy will and fulfilling it.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Love Is The Answer…..

June 24, 2017

” You know the times in which we are living. It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep, for our salvation is closer than when we first accepted the faith. The night is far spent; the day draws near. let us cast off the deeds of darkness, and put on the armor of light. Let us live honorably as in daylight; not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy, Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. ” Romans 13:11-14

We are hard-headed. hardhearted, and a slow to learn ( if ever we learn) bunch of degenerate children. You have to sit back and wonder why God bothers with us at all. We fight, we complain, we rebel, we are champion sinners, and who knows how many times we keep doing the same silly, backward, things over and over again.

Paul. who is the author of this passage, is trying to get the believers to understand where they are on the journey. There are issues of faith running around.. If you remember the passage in Matthew 22:20 , where they are asking Jesus about paying taxes to the Roman Empire. Just to prove the point, here again the citizens are still struggling the same questions that Jesus already answered ! They still had not understood, and still fighting with the same questions.

Paul is trying to tell them … Yes, you still have to do what Caesar tells you.. and YES, you still have to pay taxes.. because you live here, this is the authority in place at this time..

There is a special note I would like to inject here for our Franciscan brothers and sisters, consider for a moment your vocation. Recall the words you spoke on the day you took your profession. Our vocation, our calling, our job in the Kingdom of Heaven, ( for Franciscans, and for Christians as a whole) is to be “in the world.”.

What does that exactly mean for us ? Are we still this hard-headed ? Jesus told us … Because we live “in the world” , that means that we have to participate in the processes involved in living in the world.
We have to pay taxes. We have to obey the laws of the place where we live. We have to “pay the dues” of living in the place where we are.

We are “in the world” but we are not “of the world”. We belong to Christ. We have responsibilities, that go along with belonging to the Kingdom of God. There are things that are expected of us.

The passage before this reading explains the rule of the Kingdom of God is LOVE. If we do no evil to our neighbor, ( or wish them evil ) then the law if fulfilled. He reviews with them the 10 Commandments. and then comes the reading above.

This is meant to spur them on in their faith, to get them to try to excel in doing good works. To keep them from falling into sin.

Now consider, that every day, you start out your day, saying your morning prayers, and you ask God for the strength, and wisdom and perseverance to keep from some particular area of sin, or the occasion of it.

Then at night in the cool of the evening, you have the time to reflect on the day. You have the time to pray, and you feel bad, because you fell into some trap of sin. and it happened AGAIN .. and you find yourself the next morning having the same conversation with the Lord. You feel terrible… you think maybe you are the worst disciple ever… EVER ! Well, maybe not ever.. but still pretty bad.

Take heart ! You see, the saints, all of those people who were the super heros of humanity, they became saints NOT because they did not sin. They became saints by putting forth super human effort in attempting to live the gospel virtues. In short, these folks became saints because of the fact that they tried above all else, to live the law of LOVE !

I want to encourage each of you, to strive as best you are able, to live the law of love. Jesus made it as simple to remember as He could. Just two things you have to remember !

Love the Lord your God, with all your mind, heart, and soul.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

He did not say it would be easy. I can tell you from personal experience that everyone fails… Particularly on the second rule. Do not lose faith in this journey because you fail, OR because someone else failed to love you. Your neighbor might fail in loving you… but God never will !

Again it is not that we FALL, but how we RISE ! Rise with FAITH ! Rise with HOPE and rise with LOVE !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

May You Attain Full Knowledge …

June 18, 2017

“May you attain full knowledge of God’s will through perfect wisdom, and spiritual insight. Then you will lead a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing to Him in every way. You will multiply good works of every sort and grow in the knowledge of God. By the might of His glory you will be endowed with the strength needed to stand fast, even to endure joyfully what ever may come, giving thanks to the Father for having made you worthy to share the lot of the saints in light. He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.” Colossians 1:9-13

This passage from scripture is the opening lines of encouragement from the Apostle Paul, who was writing to the Colossians, along with Timothy who was traveling with Paul. What comes before this passage though is subtle, but noteworthy. Paul recognizes Epaphas, who he recognizes as a ” fellow servant”, or disciple of Christ. What is also important to note here is that there is no recorded point in time where Paul ever actually went to Colossea. Instead, Paul taught the true faith to Epaphas, who converted, learned and then took that seed of faith and returned home to Colossea, and spread it through the countryside converting the people and passed that faith to the people and the future saints who lived there.

So, you say to yourself, great ! So what does that mean for us here ? Glad you asked !

It is important because Paul did not have to go and hold the hand of Epaphas in order to pass on the light of faith and the Word. Paul had faith in the seed he planted. It really had little to do with Epaphas. Although, Epaphas did have an open heart, and believed the Word when he heard it. Paul trusted that Word would spread. Just as Jesus, entrusted the twelve apostles, who in and of themselves were not perfect, did not always have perfect faith, but still trusted in the seed of faith that they were given..

This idea of having the pure seed of faith being transmitted to others in a sometimes imperfect manner is pretty much how it goes. This should give us encouragement in the faith that we have received and to participate more fully in the charge that we are given to pass on this faith as Epaphas did. We don’t have to do it perfectly, we just have to do it. We also don’t need the sledgehammer approach, where we are pounding the seed into the skull of the person receiving it… All we have to do is plant the seed, and walk away.

We have to have faith that the seed we plant, is what God will use for His will. The seed that is planted, will not always bloom before our eyes. We may never get the opportunity to see the results of the seeds we plant. We must trust in God. We must trust that the Lord will use the seeds we plant in the continuum of His divine will.

The beginning of this passage says “may you attain full knowledge of God’s will through perfect wisdom and spiritual insight…” Maybe the saints eventually ended up at this place, but for the rest of us, this is the destination, and the journey is where we spend our time… at least if we make the effort.

Much like the planting of those seeds of faith, where at times we may get to see a glimpse of the results, possibly the beginnings of the results of our labors, we will likely never see the complete result, or even understand what it is that will occur as a result of that work, which would be in Gods will for mankind. The one truth that we know about Gods will to an absolute certainty is that Gods plan for us is as basic as the first truth we learned as children. God’s will for us is to …. know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him.. so that we can be with Him in Heaven.
Ask someone who is your elder, if the life that they currently have, is the life that they dreamed of, or planned for in their youth. If their lives were the same now as what they had planned for it to be maybe after high school, or even after college ( if they went to college and attended after high school).

I would venture to say that nearly none of them can say that their lives turned out as they originally planned. This is the difference between where mans will differs from God’s will. We could attempt to understand, or discern where God had a hand in the things that have occurred in our lives, It is even possible that we could see a facet of how things happened the way that they did. This enlightenment is not just for our own understanding. This enlightenment is there so that we have the opportunity to not only be enriched in our own faith,, but to fulfill our mission to share that faith with others just as Epaphas did in Collosea.

God can take the one small seed, one small act of faith, and use that one act to help bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. This is what Paul was praying for and encouraging the Colossians towards… and what I encourage you towards today, the same way that Saint Francis did hundreds of years ago… Preach the gospel at all times.. and when necessary, use words..

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Mind Your Business….

June 9, 2017

“Anyone who would not work, should not eat. We hear that some of you are unruly, not keeping busy but acting like busy-bodies. We enjoin all such, and we urge them strongly in the Lord Jesus Christ, to earn the food they eat by working quietly. You must never grow weary of doing what is right, brothers”. ( 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13 ).

In this letter Paul is writing to the community because there are people who are not really doing their part and are taking the time from the work they should be doing, and instead making themselves busy dealing with affairs of others.

In the world today, much is said of those who are not gainfully employed, or under employed. The world looks at these souls and judge them. They are judge to be lazy, guilty of sloth. They just don’t want to work. Indeed, there are those who were brought up not to value work at all, or were taught not to value certain types of work, because they were considered somehow “less” or not really something to be desired.

Society has been equally disowning of people who have been challenged in their educational processes.

In fact, we still struggle in this area. We understand, for instance, that different people learn by differing methods. We have not gotten to a point where we can effectively transform that knowledge into the individual student. How they learn, and then transform that into an educational process that works for that student.

There are budget concerns.. ” We can’t possibly create individual plans for each and every students!.. We simply can’t afford either the staff, or the budget concerns.” This is a common issue in education. Then those who do not learn in the traditional ways, are by and large, relegated to “lesser” jobs. They are told, ” You don’t have what it takes to go to college… you should find a trade , or go to work in retail or fast food. You might not think this goes on today. You would be wrong.

But I digress…

The problem we have, is that work is today, not something of value for most people. The employers, do not value the work of the people who work for them. They value instead the spreadsheet. The statistics that look nice and green. As long as those numbers look right, and positive, then everything is fine. Otherwise, there are only numbers and that the shoulders are broad enough to receive the pat on the back approvals of those closest. The company ( or owners ) no longer feel any obligation towards those people who toil in their firms.. after all they are numbers… replaceable, something that is replaceable in very little time with another body eager to fill it. Who spend their time “dumbing down” the process so it is easier to replace the last body that fell under the wheel of their taskmasters whip. For them their world is “gray”…. no black or white… just the gray of how the story is spun.

There are employees who, no longer have a work ethic. Who do not care about the job they do. Who’s sole concern is how little it is possible to do, in order to keep a paycheck. They do not care about the tools they are given, or the people for whom this work is done. As long as their numbers are passable, that go up to the “ivory tower” of management, then its good enough. There is no loyalty to the company that they work for, because they already know the company has no loyalty or care for them as people.

So why should we care about work ?

Work, is a gift from God. We work in order to gain a just wage. It is through that work, that we gain a just wage through which , we tithe. Tithing is not just money. Tithing is time, talent and treasure. That thing which we offer to God, through our family, through our brothers and sisters, and as a way to sanctify our day.

Paul is also quick to instruct the Thessalonians to conduct themselves in an upright and honorable way.

We too, should spend our efforts in public and in private, working on our own sanctification. It is through this type of work. Working honorably, and justly; working on our own sanctification, will be the greatest tool we have at our disposal to bring about the Kingdom of God.

Will we falter ? Sure we will. Will we slip ? Of course we will. It is not how we FALL,… but how we RISE !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

God’s Mercy…

May 20, 2017

Gods Mercy….

‘Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience,
so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may [now] receive mercy.

For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.’ ( Romans 11:30-32 )

This passage is Paul talking is talking to his fellow Isrealites.. the Jews, of which he was one. and he is attempting to get them out of their “superiority complex” and get them to understand that they too sinned. Not only did they sin, but they sinned greatly, and God in his infinite love showed them mercy. They fell into sin which allowed them to be put into exile.. to learn of the great mercy and love of God. Now, it is the Gentiles who have fallen into sin, and they too will learn the lesson that the Jews should have learned that God indeed is loving and has infinite mercy.

Pain can be a mercy. Now before you all run off and think I have lost my mind and get any odd notions.. Consider this… How many souls have come to God in pain. How many souls reach the near end of their ropes, stripped of their preconceptions, feeling alone, and beaten, having suffered at the hands of the world. Who suffered through illness, pain, calamity, and then….. THEN.. it is that they come to realize that there is nothing…. they are nothing without God.

How many on their death beds… how many in fear and trembling ? For themselves, or those they love.
When you are at the mercy of another soul, who deigns to serve God, in the service of their brothers and sisters.

Think of the love and mercy Christ gave us on the cross. Think of the pains and challenges you have faced in your lifetime. You are given graces beyond recognition. You are given mercies you do not know, or even understand. The developement of your travels towards sanctification are held in the river of mercy poured out on all the world.

Consider the breadth of pain a teenager goes through as they attempt to figure out their world. Emotions that run the gambit, relationships and all the turbulence that goes with it. The terrible 2’s when infants are trying to figure out their world. Or when seniors get away from their jobs and again have to figure our their world.

Come to think of it, we pretty much spend a vast amount of our lifetimes trying to “figure it out”. All the while God has already given us the blueprint. We are however, like the Israelites of the Biblical era , hard headed, and hard of heart… and we do not listen.

God’s Love and Mercy endures forever…

May God give you the gift of His peace (and mercy) !

Blessed are the Merciful…

October 22, 2016

:Blessed are the merciful,

for they will be shown mercy. ” (Matthew 5:7)

This is the year that we have had a year for the celebration of mercy, as it was lead from Pope Francis.

We are coming to the close of the Year of Mercy, and so what have we learned ? What have we put into practice ? How has this year caused us to reflect on how we practice mercy, and what have we done to use this practice to enhance our spiritual lives or the lives of our brothers and sisters ?

In the book of James, we find James giving some instructions about how we are to treat each other.

In this chapter, we find James giving us specifically the example of how it is that we treat the poor. how it is that if we spend time looking at the rich who are brought into the church, and invited to sit in places of prominence, but the poor we tell them to stand in the back, or in some other out of the way place. We are given examples of how we offend the dignity of the human person, and the other children of God by our actions, even unto the very house of God.

“The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. the corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God ” ( CCC # 2447 )

The church teaches us these characteristics of what mercy is, Jesus throughout the scripture shows us examples of how this mercy is to be carried out. How have we internalized these works ?

In our daily lives, do we try to teach (Instruct) others in areas where we are knowledgeable ? Do we console those who are feeling down, or separated or in pain ? Are we forgiving of others ? Can we manage to have patience, and bear with others who wrong us unjustly ?

In many churches throughout the world, parishes have created a “Door of Mercy” through which everyone passes through, and there was a big “to do” made about the door and a liturgical blessing and celebration etc. What difference has it made for us ? Do we pass by the door, making a mental note of the fact that, “this is the door of mercy” and then thoughts drift off to the next thing. Maybe you pass by the door and it no longer makes you take pause to mark its existence at all because its been there all year… It is no longer “new” to us so we just accept that its there. Possibly, this is what has happened to our practice of mercy as well.

“In its various forms – material deprivation, unjust oppression, physical and psychological illness and death – human misery is the obvious sign of the inherited condition of frailty and need for salvation in which man finds himself as a consequence of original sin” ( CCC # 2448 )

In the world today we have these effects. These effects which we carry out in our daily lives, as a matter of course. These effects, these acts of both commission and omission, where we see the poverty, we see the injustice, we see the oppression of our brothers and sisters, and possibly, just like that Door of Mercy, that we pass by, we have seen it, we know its there, but we have become so accustomed to it that we no longer take note of it. .

The Church tells us that these human conditions have their origin in original sin, but we has human beings have perpetuated this condition as a matter of free will. This is why we are given then the Physical and Corporal Works of Mercy, in order to counter the effects of these evils in the world.

Saint James reminds us :

“So speak and so act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom.

For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.”

(James 2:12-13)

In our practice of mercy, it is most important to remember that we too are poor, and in great need of the Fathers mercy, as we have all sinned, and therefore, we need forgiveness, and mercy of the Father, and from our brothers and sisters. Knowing this to be true, we should be foremost in these acts, to soften our hearts, to love, as we have been loved.

May God give you the gift of His peace……. and mercy