Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What to do differently, this Advent 2013

Advent has a bit of an identity crisis. A time a preparation, yes. A penitential season? Hmmm... Not really. Canon law and the liturgical texts don't lend themselves to support Advent as a "Lesser Lent". So what are we to make of this season and what if anything should we do differently?

As is always the case, the Church invites us to pray. Pray more often, more fully, more earnestly especially in light of the expectation of the coming of our Savior. At times this prayer can be a forceful one, of desperation  tinged with hope as in the Psalms or as John the Baptist's cry to repent as we'll hear this Sunday.

But in the end I believe Advent is about "holy desire".  A deep longing to see the Messiah, the newborn king, the babe in the manger yet again, but with a new sense of longing, fulfilled by the joy of Emmanuel, God with us.

So take this longing prayer of desperation to the Father in prayer, knowing it will be fulfulled in the feast of Christmas 2013. And that greater lifelong longing will be fulfilled in our final Advent when we anticipate seeing the Lord face to face.

I John 3:2-3
2Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.…

Monday, April 22, 2013

Jesus is God - Good Shepherd Sunday

Divinity of Christ (Jesus is God)
Fourth Sunday of Easter aka Good Shepherd Sunday

Opening Prayer

Leader: O God, come to our assistance.
All: Lord, make haste to help us.
Leader: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
All: as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

All: Come, Holy Spirit.  Fill the hearts of Your faithful.
Enkindle in us the fire of Your love
Send forth Your Spirit and we shall be created.
All: And You shall renew the face of the Earth.
Let us pray
All: Oh God, who by the light of Your Holy Spirit, instructs the hearts of Your faithful.
Grant that, by that same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in Your consolations through Christ Our Lord.  Amen


Jesus is God

What is my initial reaction to that statement?
Write your answer here:

Thomas - “unless I see...” --> ”My Lord and My God!”
There seems to be a human reaction that no human can be God - we need faith assisted by grace and experiences that confirm this strange and unique truth about the man Jesus.

Jesus’s claims

“I and the Father are one” - oneness implies equality John 10:30
Before Abraham was, I Am”,: “I AM” - Yahweh, the name for God in Judaism John 8:58
Repeated use of title “Son of Man” = Messiah = Son of God
“If you don’t believe in me believe in my works” John 10:38

Other’s Statements

Luke: Emmanuel = God with us
Paul: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. 1 Timothy 3:16
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. Colossians 1:14-17
John: “the Word was God.” John 1:14
Peter: 2 Peter 1:1 - to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Early Church

We can clearly see from Peter, Paul, John, Luke and the other evangelists that the divinity of Christ was THE primary issue of Faith; especially for John in his Gospel

In addition other early Church Fathers including Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Augustine all keep the Divinity of Christ as a central claim in their writings

“Through Christ as human you make your way to Christ as God” -Augustine


Arianism - The Arian concept of Christ is that the Son of God did not always exist, but was      created by—and is therefore distinct from—God the Father.
Manichaeism - denies divinity of Christ and Trinity; dualism of man; body is evil; soul is good; receive higher order of truth than Christ; Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy (prophets)

The Trinity

Clearly referenced by Christ in the Gospels (Holy Spirit) and Church Fathers but still a mystery and stumbling block

But a central teaching in Catholicism and other prominent Christian faiths

Denied by Islam, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses and others.

Cocktail Party Objections:

Jesus is a good moral teacher - incorrect; He claimed to be God so he is either who he says he is or a liar which would make him a bad man not a good man.

We all “divine” - Jesus is not in the milieu of the polytheists he was an observant Jew so this idea would have been blasphemy to the good Jew

Peter Kreeft - “A measure of your insanity is the size of the gap between what you think you are and what you really are.”


Monday, March 18, 2013

Reconciliation - Fifth Sunday of Lent


Opening Prayer

Leader: O God, come to our assistance.
All: Lord, make haste to help us.
Leader: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
All: as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
All: Come, Holy Spirit.  Fill the hearts of Your faithful.
Enkindle in us the fire of Your love
Send forth Your Spirit and we shall be created.
All: And You shall renew the face of the Earth.
Let us pray
All: Oh God, who by the light of Your Holy Spirit, instructs the hearts of Your faithful.
Grant that, by that same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in Your consolations through Christ Our Lord.  Amen

Reading I
Is 43:16-21
Thus says the LORD,
who opens a way in the sea
and a path in the mighty waters,
who leads out chariots and horsemen,
a powerful army,
till they lie prostrate together, never to rise,
snuffed out and quenched like a wick.
Remember not the events of the past,
the things of long ago consider not;
see, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
In the desert I make a way,
in the wasteland, rivers.
Wild beasts honor me,
jackals and ostriches,
for I put water in the desert
and rivers in the wasteland
for my chosen people to drink,
the people whom I formed for myself,
that they might announce my praise.
Responsorial Psalm
Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6
  (3)  The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Reading II
Phil 3:8-14
Brothers and sisters:
I consider everything as a loss 
because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things 
and I consider them so much rubbish, 
that I may gain Christ and be found in him, 
not having any righteousness of my own based on the law 
but that which comes through faith in Christ, 
the righteousness from God, 
depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection 
and the sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, 
if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
It is not that I have already taken hold of it 
or have already attained perfect maturity, 
but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, 
since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, I for my part 
do not consider myself to have taken possession.
Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind 
but straining forward to what lies ahead
I continue my pursuit toward the goal,
the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.
Jn 8:1-11
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, 
and all the people started coming to him, 
and he sat down and taught them.
Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman 
who had been caught in adultery 
and made her stand in the middle.
They said to him,
“Teacher, this woman was caught 
in the very act of committing adultery.
Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.
So what do you say?”
They said this to test him,
so that they could have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.
But when they continued asking him,
he straightened up and said to them,
“Let the one among you who is without sin 
be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Used with permission. Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997,


Reconciliation - etymology

1. to cause (a person) to accept or be resigned to something not desired: He was reconciled to his fate.
2. to win over to friendliness; cause to become amicable: to reconcile hostile persons.
3. to compose or settle (a quarrel, dispute, etc.).
4. to bring into agreement or harmony; make compatible or consistent: to reconcile differing statements; to reconcile accounts.
5. to reconsecrate (a desecrated church, cemetery, etc.).
6. to restore (an excommunicate or penitent) to communion in a church.

Other meanings: settle; come to rest, establish a permanent residence, mixture, renew, restore, become young again (eddy)


1300–50;  reconcilen < L reconciliāre to make good again, repair. See re-conciliate



Older brother in prodigal son also in need of conversion and reconciliation - smug, bitter, angry, jealous; 
human family divided by selfishness yet longing for unity

in Christ all creation is reconciled to God

Relationship to Mercy and Conversion

We recognize the mercy of God and then Convert (or reconvert)

But we still in need of continual re-conversion (reconciliation) St. Paul to Corinthians 2 Cor 5:18 "be reconciled to God"

internal link unites conversion and reconciliation - jpii

What is in need of reconciliation?

Mystery of Sin

(see the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis and Toward God (ch 2), by Michael Casey)
“Clearly sin is a product of man's freedom. But deep within its human reality there are factors at work which place it beyond the merely human, in the border area where man's conscience, will and sensitivity are in contact with the dark forces which, according to St. Paul, are active in the world almost to the point of ruling it.”

Tower of babel - exclusion of God; rupture with God, disobedience to God

Division of people - all sin is personal and also social as it has social repercussions

disorder against communion with God who is the source of our being and acting; mortal - turning away; venial - dn reach point of turning away - Aquinas

Loss of sense of sin - can't be totally obliterated; conscience is the source of our sense of sin

Mysterium pietatis - 1 Tim 3:16, Mystery of our Faith/Religion - great mystery of love, the incarnation and redemption of man which conquers sin;

  God intervenes to prevent victory of sin; path opened by divine mercy to a reconciled life

if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves I John 1:8

Whoever confesses his sins . . . is already working with God. God indicts your sins; if you also indict them, you are joined with God. Man and sinner are, so to speak, two realities: when you hear "man" - this is what God has made; when you hear "sinner" - this is what man himself has made. Destroy what you have made, so that God may save what he has made. . . . When you begin to abhor what you have made, it is then that your good works are beginning, since you are accusing yourself of your evil works. The beginning of good works is the confession of evil works. You do the truth and come to the light.61
-St Augustine from CCC

How to examine our lives:

daily examen of conscience(ness)
1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it
5. Look toward tomorrow.

Self, Community and World 

Mission of Jesus - today's Gospel reading; restored woman to relationship with self, community and God but Go, and from now on do not sin any more.

Jesus’ public ministry began with a call for repentance. He forgave sins. Jesus ate and drank with sinners, a remarkable gesture that graphically illustrates the reconciling nature of his mission. His suffering, death and resurrection represent not only his own passover into new life but also our passover with him. Jesus himself is the primordial sacrament of reconciliation. This gift is given to the Church, which by its activities becomes in the world a sign of conversion. - RCL

Healing - one of the principal works of Jesus' ministry; "reintegrated forgiven sinners into the community of the People of God" - CCC

Jesus established link between reconciliation with others and reconciliation with God

Mission of the Church - the Church carries on the Jesus’ mission of reconciliation

Reconciled with self in inmost being, where one regains true identity, with brothers, with church, with all of creation  - jpii

Henri Nouwen - Reaching Out

Self - loneliness->solitude; ok with our alone-ness
Others - hostility->hospitality; with solitude established our anger and neediness is transformed into openness 
World - illusion -> prayer; remove our inner illusions and patiently seek intimacy with God through prayer and spiritual guidance/community

Two modes of reconciliation

Strong longing for unity in the world

Mission and Ministry of Reconciliation  (JPII)

  1. Mission -
is the Church's duty to the world
do everything possible to witness to reconciliation and bring it about in the world
Church is called to be an example of reconciliation to the world;  dialogue
St. Paul's exhortation - "be reconciled to God" ; division in early Church
Church reconciles by prayer, preaching and witness 
"A reconciled world" - St Augustine

2.  Ministry - Sacrament of Reconciliation   

Church as "assembly of the reconciled" primary means of receiving forgiveness of sins after Baptism; not to be disregarded as a means of grace

Aspects of the Sacrament

  1. judicial action - before a "tribunal of mercy"
  2. spiritual healing - "I wish to heal not accuse" St. Augustine

Contrition - I have sinned vs sin exists; prodigal son - comes to his senses, decides to return; 
difficulty in modern culture to say "I'm sorry" (sar, sar)

Absolution - "God has reconciled the world to himself"

Penance  -

  • striving for what is better; daily deeds and acts of penance
  • inspired by love and not fear - Vatican II
  • works of mercy
  • prayer, Scripture reading, fasting, almsgiving, meditation on last things (gestures of reconciliation)

Effects of the Sacrament: Peace and serenity, spiritual consolation; reconciled with self, Church and World

Indulgences - meditation of Church which has power to forgive from Christ along with the "treasury" of good works of Christ and Saints; unity in the Mystical body of Christ; remission of temporal punishment-double consequence of sin - eternal and temporal; within the very nature of sin itself; see CCC

Forms of Celebration

Individual required for serious sins; General Absolution reserved for "grave necessity"

The demands of a Reconciled life

Heart of spirituality of the new covenant in Jesus Christ

  • commitment to unity
  • mercy and patience during persecution
  • repaying evil with good
  • forgiveness of offenses
  • love of enemies

How do we live a Reconciled life?

Form our conscience - prayer, Scripture, consciousness examen http://ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen  

Commit to mission of reconciliation

Regularly receive sacrament of reconciliation

Discussion Questions

1. How can we help form the conscience of ourselves and those in our family? How do we foster development of virtues, prayer and love of Scripture? (enthronment of Bible)

2. John Paul II describes the Mission of Reconciliation. How can we get involved in that mission of the Church?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Prayer after communion

Anima Christi
Post-communion prayer

Anima Christi, sanctífica me.
Corpus Christi, salva me.
Sanguis Christi, inébria me.
Aqua láteris Christi, lava me.
Pássio Christi, confórta me.
O bone Jesu, exáudi me.
Intra tua vúlnera abscónde me.
Ne permíttas me separári a te.
Ab hoste malígno defénde me.
In hora mortis meæ voca me.
Et iube me veníre ad te,
ut cum Sanctis tuis laudem te in sæcula sæculórum. Amen.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gaudete! - Bringing Joy means having Joy yourself

AFE - Bringing Joy Through Justice - to myself and others

Third Sunday of Advent

The third Sunday of Advent is known traditionally as “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete is a Latin word meaning rejoice—an imperative taken from the readings of this day.

Reading 1 Zep 3:14-18a

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has removed the judgment against you
he has turned away your enemies;
the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
he will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.

Responsorial Psalm Is 12:2-3, 4, 5-6.

R. (6) Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.

Reading 2 Phil 4:4-7

Brothers and sisters:
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.

Gospel Lk 3:10-18

The crowds asked John the Baptist,
"What should we do?"
He said to them in reply,
"Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise."

Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
"Teacher, what should we do?"
He answered them,
"Stop collecting more than what is prescribed."
Soldiers also asked him,
"And what is it that we should do?"
He told them,
"Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages."

Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
"I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
Exhorting them in many other ways,
he preached good news to the people.

Joy and Pain

Can we “bring joy through justice” without having joy ourselves?
Does it go both ways or just in one direction?

My premise-we need some level of joy (and a sense of our sinfulness) ourselves to even begin to worry about others

The Problem of Pain/Evil/Suffering

How do we reconcile a loving, omnipotent God with the presence of evil/suffering/pain?

272 Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the experience of evil and suffering. God can sometimes seem to be absent and incapable of stopping evil. But in the most mysterious way God the Father has revealed his almighty power in the voluntary humiliation and Resurrection of his Son, by which he conquered evil. Christ crucified is thus "the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." It is in Christ's Resurrection and exaltation that the Father has shown forth "the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe".

Free will - God created us in His image
1730 God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. "God willed that man should be 'left in the hand of his own counsel,' so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him."26
Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts.27

God’s creation of persons with morally significant free will is something of tremendous value. God could not eliminate much of the evil and suffering in this world without thereby eliminating the greater good of having created persons with free will with whom he could have relationships and who are able to love one another and do good deeds. - Alvin Plantinga http://www.iep.utm.edu/evil-log/#H5


Sources - ⅘ from sin inflicted on selves and others (CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain, Ch 6)
Natural Disasters - world is setup with certain “laws of nature” in place; can these be randomly interrupted or allowed to function?
“That’s the way it is” - not very satisfying.
Western avoidance of suffering - if you can’t avoid it then at least avoid talking about it!

385 God is infinitely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil. Where does evil come from? "I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution", said St. Augustine, and his own painful quest would only be resolved by his conversion to the living God. For "the mystery of lawlessness" is clarified only in the light of the "mystery of our religion". The revelation of divine love in Christ manifested at the same time the extent of evil and the superabundance of grace. We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror.


“statistically certain, totally unnatural”
e.g. clearly part of the human condition but we know there’s more

1007 Death is the end of earthly life. Our lives are measured by time, in the course of which we change, grow old and, as with all living beings on earth, death seems like the normal end of life. That aspect of death lends urgency to our lives: remembering our mortality helps us realize that we have only a limited time in which to bring our lives to fulfillment:
Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, . . . before the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Post 9/11 behavior
Jesus’ attitude - the Son of Man must suffer and be put to death and rise again

Aquinas  Exitus-Reditus: all things emerge from and return to God.
Orientation toward God - Michael Casey, Toward God


Is there any benefit to asking “Why”?
Clearly a natural human reaction
Is there ever an answer?
God gives you gifts “beyond all human understanding” such as faith, others but this takes a lot of time

Friends, the lesson of this Advent and Christmas season is that our God is indeed very close to us – especially when we endure injustice and encounter the evil of violence and death.  These seasons point us to a God born in the flesh, born as a child so poor He is laid to rest not in a crib in a nursery, but in a manger in a stable … a child who is hunted by a mass murderer and exiled to a foreign country … a child, grown into a man, who is unjustly arrested and tried, brutally tortured and publicly executed … all in order to save us from our sins!

And so, brothers and sisters, if we want to know where we can find God in events like yesterday we need look no further than the children who huddled in classrooms and closets fearful of a madman who sought their lives; we can find His presence in the teachers who shepherded their students to safety, and the principal who lived and died with such great devotion to education; and of course we can see God the Father, and Mary the Mother of God, in the faces of mothers and fathers who weep and mourn for their sons and daughters.

God’s reply

Are there any “answers”?
God’s response to Job - “Were you there when...?” We don’t have the “universal picture”.

Today’s Readings - God with us in everything; God’s Son died; Mary and the Pieta
Isaiah 43:1 - “I love you... and you are mine”

Do not be afraid, I am with you
I have called you each by name
Come and follow Me
I will bring you home
I love you and you are mine - David Haas

Our response - What should we do?

Today’s Gospel - Are we to leave our jobs and become monks? Probably not, rather treat others with respect, as we would have them treat us. Simple!

Prayer - suffering and discontent bring us to God (Casey)

Acts of Charity - temporary but necessary actions to assist others per Jesus’ command

Social Justice - permanent; are there structures that prohibit people from be treated with human dignity? http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/seven-themes-of-catholic-social-teaching.cfm