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October 2017

Jesus Heals On the Sabbath

ShutterstockIn this morning's gospel, Jesus uses two modes of healing: voice command and touch. In certain parables, Jesus uses only his voice and will to effect a cure, even at a distance, for example the centurion's servant. In the case of the woman with the deformation of the spine, he uses both touch and command. 

In the Sacrament of the Sick, the Church uses both these methods, employing prayers for healing and laying on of the priest's hands. In addition the anointing with Oil of the Sick constitutes an essential part of the sacrament. 

When it comes to the celebration of the Sacrament of the Sick, sooner is always  better than later. If the anointing is prior to non-urgent surgery, the sacrament can be prayed by the parish priest and family before admission to the hospital. If for a serious illness, anointing should ideally take place before the person loses consciousness or becomes overly confused by pain medications. In these circumstances, concerned family members can also gather to help support the sick person with prayers during the anointing. Someone who is conscious may also wish to go to confession (to use the old language). 

The Sacrament of the Sick is a beautiful sacrament that bestows much peace and inner strength, sometimes even physical strength enough to recover. 


Love God, Love Neighbor: Get the First Button Right

Shutterstock_146019983In a recently published book of his homilies, Pope Benedict reminds us that without God in our lives, it is as if we put the second button in the first buttonhole --- nothing will come out right. It's a great metaphor for mistakenly living life as a strategic game instead of a prayerful plan.

If the love of God is the foundation of our lives, then all our other relationships are based on this love. If not, we cannot love anyone. And if God disappears from our world, he warns, all is dark.

Loving God and neighbor both require practice, so confession, prayer, Eucharist and bearing with other in patience must be practiced each day. 

The book entitled, Teaching and Learning the Love of God Today: Being A Priest Today has a foreword by Pope Francis. 

Pope Francis Decries "False Compassion"

Picture1During Respect Life Month, it is well to recall an admonition of Pope Francis some years ago when he discussed "false compassion." False compassion is:

confusing women's right with the right to an abortion

producing a child as a right, not a gift

unethical human experimentation

promoting euthanasia as a human dignity.

November 15,  2014

Conference of Italian Catholic Physicians


To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Expected

Shutterstock_646576888This morning's gospel reminds us that to whom much is given, much is expected. We like to think that Jesus isn't speaking about us since our needs seem so many. Yet, if we're honest, we should count ourselves among the very blessed of the world and cultivate not only a spirit of gratitude but of generosity in our hearts. 

In the opening prayer of today's mass, the church prays for peace. This is one commodity in too short supply not only around the world but also in our minds and hearts. A prayer for peace can be a meeting place for unity.

Whenever we pray for personal needs, even health or happiness, we can resolve to share its fruits with others. 



Saint John of Capistrano

JohnOfCapistsranoSt. John of Capistrano, the "soldier saint," whose preaching and personal leadership in battle is credited with helping repel the Turkish invaders of Hungary after the fall of Constantinople is shown here with conquering IHS Banner. Despite his 70 years, he rallied for the battle only to succumb to infection in the weeks following the victory.

Having made a successful career of law and politics, he became a Franciscan friar, lead an austere life-style and preached a message of repentance and piety across Europe.

The Franciscan Mission in San Juan of Capistrano in Southern California was named in his honor by St. Junipero Serra and is the only existing location in the United States still standing where Serra prayed the mass. Besides its historic value as an early missionary settlement, it had become popularized by the annual return of the swallows on St. Joseph's day. Recent years had seen a decline in their numbers until a vigorous program was begun to recruit their return - an interesting cooperation between solid science and serious prayer.



Roman Coin With Tiberius Caesar's Inscription


The Roman coin bears the image of Caesar, we bear the Image of God, a teaching the Church has taken from the words in Genesis. 

There are many characteristics we possess that give a glimpse of how we resemble God, though perhaps not any single characteristic is sufficient.

Created at birth in God's image, then sealed with God's imprint at Baptism and reinforced at Confirmation, there are many human characteristics which mirror God to others.  As Aquinas and Augustine have noted, our human faculty for reasoning is surely one of them and not simply our ability to think, but our capacity to know we are thinking. Meditation, contemplation, reaching out to the heavens, into the atom and above the visible world to an unseen God - are God-given and God-like qualities. 

Communities formed by love for family (especially the covenant of Matrimony), friendships, neighborhoods, church are some of the many dynamic relationships which can mirror the Divine Community of Persons in the Trinity. 

Our capacity for compassion, to be with others in suffering, to use our spiritual imagination to empathize with others, to imagine how the world might be better without slavery or nuclear weapons and to pray and work toward it are co-creative acts of making the world a more peaceful place.

Not one characteristic makes us carbon-copy of God, but a complex multifaceted resemblance.


St. Paul of the Cross

St Paul of the Cross-FounderSaint
St. Paul of the Cross founded the Passionist Fathers with the spiritual insight that the best way to know Jesus is through contemplating his suffering and death. This intimacy brings about a loving energy to minister to Christ in the poor and suffering throughout the world. 

St. Paul would carry a large cross around with him whenever he gave parish retreats as a reminder of Christ's suffering and death for us leading to his life-restoring resurrection.


The North American Martyrs

Surely we can admire the courage and dedication of the Jesuits who ministered to the Native Americans in upstate New York and Southern Canada during times of political and tribal tumult. Warring Native American tribes, competing French, Dutch and English fur traders and the epidemic of disease brought by the settlers themselves to the naive immunity of the Native Americans all made for harrowing and dangerous evangelization. It eventually cost the missioners their lives, including Isaac Jogues who returned after an escape to France for yet another mission in North America.

During his escape to France from his first captivity, he stayed for a brief time in the Dutch colony of Manhattan and became the first Catholic priest there, for which he is honored on one of the great bronze doors at St. Patrick's cathedral.

The statue shown here depicts his maimed hand from torture, which prohibited him from saying mass until special permission was obtained from the pope.


Saint Luke, Evangelist

St Luke edited from Shutterstock
Today's feastday is Saint Luke, the Evangelist, by tradition a Greek gentile and physician. In addition to his gospel, Acts of the Apostles is also attributed to him and both are written in an educated and polished form of Greek, indicating he took great care in composing and putting his words into writing. 

His gospel is written for those who do not necessarily understand Jewish customs and emphasizes Jesus' concern for the poor and the "left out," showing Jesus very often at prayer. His gospel narrative contains some of the most beloved stories in the New Testament. His symbol is the ox, in this statue portrayed at his feet.

How fortunate for us that St. Luke loved the Lord and not only spread the gospel message, but took time to write it down.



Sacred Heart


Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque's revelations were instrumental in changing popular piety. Jesus' merciful love for us became more greatly appreciated and more frequent communion encouraged. First Friday Communion was actually more frequent than receiving once per year at Easter!