St. Maximilian Kolbe, Martyr of Charity

Saints in Heavenly CloudsWhile canon lawyers are still discussing the technical requirements of the Catholic church for being declared a martyr, we should not miss Maximilian Kolbe's heroic life of virtue long before he volunteered to take the place of a condemned man in a Nazi concentration camp. His self-sacrifice and service to others continued even in the bleak starvation bunker with his fellow prisoners.

Pope Francis' recent motu proprio, "Greater Love Than This" defined a new category of sainthood -an offering of life. Traditionally, the death of a martyr for the faith had to occur as a direct and immediate hatred for the Catholic faith on the part of the oppressor toward the victim. 

 “They are worthy of special consideration and honor, those Christians who, following in the footsteps and teachings of the Lord Jesus, have voluntarily and freely offered their lives for others and have persevered until death in this regard.”

Pope Francis, Majorem hac dilectionem.



Stormy Seas and Seawalking

bicycle riding, learning, parents, training wheels

I laughed when St. Peter's sinking

into the stormy waves

reminded me of learning

To ride a bike.

For my first brief solo flights

without training wheels, 

I was fine until I realized

Dad wasn’t holding on anymore.

And then...crash...right into the hedges!



This gospel is wonderful encouragement

as we strive to follow Jesus.

First, encouragement not to lose faith

For it is then we begin to sink.

       There’s a point at which

       All the books about prayer

       Can’t teach us to pray

       If we don’t begin to pray

       And then stop worrying

       If we’re doing it right.

Second, reassurance

That if we’re heading

In the right direction...toward Jesus

And following his commands

He won’t let us sink.


St. Augustine preached

A wonderful homily

On this gospel

On which we can reflect

After we realize that

Augustine asks us

To make, “Lord, I’m sinking.”

Is not always easy to admit.

But we need not keep

Up a bravado with God - 

A false front of security

And calm, even if done

For the sake of others.

God doesn’t require it.

You are not walking on the lake like Peter
but on another sea, for this world is a sea;
Trials its waves, temptations its storms,
and men devouring each other as fishes do.
Don't be afraid, step out stoutly lest you sink.
When the gale blows and the waves rise,
and your weakness makes you fear you will be lost,
cry out, 'Lord, I am sinking,'
and he who bade you walk will not let you perish.

St. Augustine via At The Edge of the Enclosure a wonderful resource for prayerful reflection on Scripture each Sunday.

Could St. Clare Watch Television With You?

TvPope Pius XII named St Clare, virgin and abbess,  patron saint of television due to her reported ability to "watch" mass on the wall of her room when she was unable to attend in the chapel due to illness. She had one of the earliest big screen televisions?

Her radical commitment to poverty, chaste living and prayer, especially in the Eucharist are counter-cultural images to our age of acquisition, sexual promiscuity and self-deification. 

Could we invite her to watch the television images we project on our walls?


St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr


Jesus told us that where our treasure is, there also will be our heart.

The lure of earthly possessions, reputation,  and other things which pass can attract our heart away from things which last forever.

St. Lawrence had it right when he counted not the possessions of the church as its riches, but its people gathered around Christ - especially its poor, sick and powerless.

We can profess our love for God, family and brothers and sisters in Christ, but our heart may have been tempted away from them.

Let us pray today, that we keep our hearts in the right place - centered in Christ.



Edith Stein, Saint Sr. Benedicta of the Cross

A photo of Edith Stein before her professed life as a Carmelite nun, and later as Sr. Benedicta of the Cross. Edith was born a German Jew and distinguished herself as an excellent scholar, eventually becoming as associate of Edmund Husserl, the famous philosopher. An interesting aspect of the school of Phenomenology was its analysis of events and issues as we encounter them, suspending any preconceived notions or prejudices. Some think this is why she became open to Catholic teachings, eventually embracing them completely and converting  to the Catholic faith. 

She entered the Carmelite order in Germany, eventually being transferred to a Carmel in Holland as the Nazis rose to power in Germany. For a short time, she lived safely in the obscurity of the convent, even after Hitler invaded the Netherlands, composing, at the direction of her superiors, a work she entitled "The Science of the Cross," which discussed the spirituality of St. John of the Cross. In reprisal for the Pastoral Letter issued by the Dutch Catholic church against the Nazis, among the first groups of Jews sent to the gas chambers at Auschwitz from the Netherlands were thousands of Jewish converts to Catholicism, among them Edith Stein and her sister (who by this time had also converted to Catholicism and had become a Carmelite nun).

It was not only philosophical and theological ideas which attracted her to Catholicism, but the love of Jesus Christ for us. She was particularly moved when as she toured a church before her conversion, a street vendor selling flowers came into the church, put aside her flowers and spent many minutes in prayer before picking up her flowers and resuming her day. Edith wanted to be able to pray to a God with whom she could have such a personal relationship and who mattered in our everyday lives.

She is one of the patron saints of Europe - a reminder of the time when several leading intellectuals were attracted to Catholicism instead of mocking it. She experienced oppression as a woman by the German academic community and as Jew by the Nazis but was never embittered. She, along with St. Maximillian Kolbe have been called "martyrs of love" by St. Pope John Paul II.


Enough? Enough!

Loaves and Fishes

Many times we find ourselves asking the question, "Enough?"

If we fall under the spell of modern advertisers our answer is certainly "no." We become convinced no one can never have enough money or popularity or youth or time. When we find ourselves in this state of worry, the tone my parents used to signal an end to family bickering is appropriate - "Enough."

In prayer, we might approach God with an earnest plea for help or courage or assistance in carrying out a project, dealing with a difficulty or using a blessing. "Enough?"

Whatever the circumstance, God's grace is sufficient. There is enough mercy, enough love. God's gentle, reassuring answer through Christ,  "Enough!"

Parish Day of Recollection in Advent - December 5th at Saint Alfonso Retreat House

Save the date:                                         

Tuesday, December 5th    9:00 AM - 2:30 PM

Saint Alfonso Retreat House, West Long Branch

$ 35/person includes lunch and refreshments

Three Redemptorist priests will preach the retreat which concludes with Mass at 2:30 P.M.

Confession will be available.




Saint John Vianney

FirePrivate prayer is like straw scattered here and there: if you set it on fire, it makes a lot of little flames.

But gather these straws into a bundle and light them, and you get a mighty fire, rising like a column into the sky; public prayer is like that.

St. John Vianney

Art, Film, Faith and Prayer

ImageImage Journal is always an interesting collection of prose, poetry and art, but the summer issue deals with film, specifically life changing, meaningful film

It's not specifically Christian, so there are the usual articles against hierarchical and organized religion, but these are occasional and can usually be avoided easily should the reader choose. 

In the summer film issue, notable writers and directors give their recommendations for must-see films of faith. Even reading the story lines of the recommended movies gives much food for thought.






For Christian reviews and recommendations, check out Josh Larsen's Movies are Prayers or visit a website he edits, Think Christian . Larsen's reviews are insightful and in the spirit of mainstream Christian thinking.

Life, Marriage, Religious Liberty Are Threatened

Ctp-2-350x250The US Bishops have re-issued a call to American Catholics to pray and fast on Fridays for the protection of all human life, religious liberty and the dignity of marriage and the sacrament of matrimony.

One suggestion is to abstain from eating meat on Fridays (just like the olden days). 

Holy Hours, rosaries and specific times for family prayer, e.g. around the shared table are other worthy suggestions. 

Visit their website for other suggestions: 


Bishops Call To Prayer for Life Marriage and Religious Liberty

Organ Pipes and Cabinets

There will be some construction work going on in the choir loft next Monday and Tuesday. The cabinet maker will be here to install the organ pipes and their new cabinet against the back wall in the choir loft. 

The work should only take two days, but will add to the finished look of the church and hide the relatively unsightly organ speakers flanking the Holy Cross Window.

 Pipe Cabinets