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February 2019

Firm Purpose of Amendment

ConfessionI always wondered why the phrase "firm purpose of amendment" sounded so technical, even before I knew there were other meanings for amendment - e.g. in the garden, in the constitution. But the phrase answers the warning given in the Book of Sirach this morning about presuming God's forgiveness before or during committing sin. 

Critics who mock the Sacrament of Reconciliation as somehow giving permission for Catholics to continue sinning with impunity miss the mark. We do not apologize to each other for wrongs in order to continue offending them and it is the same with God. 

A firm purpose of amendment must be made in loving seriousness.



Wisdom Hard To Come By


Today's reading from the book of Sirach teaches that wisdom is difficult to attain, surely not as simple as acquiring knowledge. Wisdom requires not only guidance from the Holy Spirit, but a capacity to map our life experiences and the example of others onto the new circumstances in our lives and discern a prudent course of action.

The statue of Sedes Sapientiae, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom shows the peace and serenity of quiet communication between Jesus and Mary that brings true wisdom.


The Devils in Mark's Gospel Know Jesus Best


It can be difficult to sort out fact from fiction when it comes to exorcism and demonic possession these days. Hollywood special effects invent or exaggerate signs of demonic activity and minimize the destructive everyday influence of evil.

Nevertheless, Jesus meets a demon on nearly every page of Mark's gospel. He exercises complete control over all the demons - a spiritual truth we can clutch for security and protection during temptation or distress. 


One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic

RockThe four marks of the church pertain to today's celebration of the Chair of Peter, especially the church's apostolicity. While we surely respect the occupant of the office of the Petrine ministry, it is the office and its founding by Christ from which this reverence flows. In these days, it is important to remember that the rock of Peter and the chair on which it sits gains its stability and permanence.


St Peter Damian

Img-Saint-Peter-DamianSt. Peter Damian, Benedictine bishop and Cardinal of the Church preached and wrote at the turn of the first millennium. It was a time when the church was beset with widespread laxity and immorality among clergy against which Damian was a forceful reformer. Let us pray for his guidance on the eve of the Bishops meeting in Rome, for the leaders of the church to be inspired with his courage and zeal.


They Look Like Trees Walking

Trees WalkingThis great image from Pinterest shows even the well-sighted what the partially cured blind man might have seen when he exclaimed that he could see men walking like trees.

Jesus' progressive healing of the blind man reminds us that our response to prayer may unfold over time. Continue prayerful engagement with our Lord develops a loving relationship with Him.

Before the fearless moral inventory taking of Lent, it is well to remind ourselves that patience is required on our path to holiness. Seeking holiness is also a stepwise progression towards God.

God's Design For Creation


Some rules are man made, others come from God. The first kind can be changed or altered (as long as they are in conformity with God's designs) but the second cannot. Divinely revealed Scripture, the teachings of the Church and our gift of human reason help us to discern to which category the moral precepts or codes for daily living belong. Beware the original sin of usurping God's plan by flawed human choices.

Genesis 1 AND Genesis 2

ArtLogoCreationIt is a wonderful exercise to read the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 to pray about the truth of Scripture and what the contradictory details of each creation story reveal to us about the divinely inspired Word of God.

It's important to realize that the creation accounts from cultures and civilizations surrounding the Israelites featured warring gods and the creation of human beings as slaves of from the blood of vanquished gods.

Our God created the world in love and us a reflection of the Divine. Thanks be to our Creator God!


World Day of the Sick

LourdesThe World Day of the Sick coincides with the feast of our Lady of Lourdes, emphasizing the importance of prayer for the sick in the gathered communities of the healthy. It is important not to exclude the sick, many of whom may be out of sight, but they should never be out of mind. 

The site of the apparition in Lourdes is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in the world and a place of miraculous healings ever since Bernadette reported her visions.

Saint Josephine Bahkita, Patron Saint Against Human-Trafficking


JosephineSaint Josephine Bahkita was kidnapped into the Turkish slave markets and eventually brought to Italy where she was freed and entered the convent. As she began to speak about her past life, a story of torture and mistreatment emerged though she never harbored feelings of hatred in her heart toward those who violated her human dignity.

She was canonized by Pope John Paul II as an example of  forgiveness and reconciliation and a modern icon against human trafficking - any activity which commodifies human life.

The Marks of the Church

ArtLogo MarksI was delighted our third graders at morning mass knew the four marks of the church today, since it wasn't a question they would be anticipating based on today's gospel. Jesus sent the Twelve in mission two-by-two to preach and heal. Our church traces its origin back to Jesus' Twelve disciples, hence the 4th mark or characteristic of the church, apostolic.


ArtLogo Martyrs

St. Paul Miki and Companions were 26 Christians martyred for the Christian faith in the sixteenth century in a wave of Japanese isolationism and just before expulsion of all Christian missionaries. 

They were a group of all ages, including elderly and children. Their courage in witnessing to the faith and their mutual support of each other on the way to martyrdom are examples for all time.

The Demoniac And The Swine


James Tissot's Demoniac and Swine (with apology for the loincloth)

It seems whenever we have daily mass gospel readings which deal with the devil, we have the youngest schoolchildren at mass - a challenging topic for any of us to grasp. They frequently ask about the devil and often have some very imaginative concepts of what the devil may be like. Most of them are helped along by Hollywood and TV. 

While fighting Satan is surely a battle, the victory is already won by Jesus Christ's Resurrection in which we share through our Baptism. Invoking Jesus' name in prayer, praying the sign of the cross and using sacramentals like holy water can help loosen the grip of temptation and remind us of Jesus' saving action.

Unrestricted Abortion Laws "Pure Evil" Says Archbishop Naumann

Archbishop Naumann prays with the faithful to Respect Life

After what seemed like progress for Pro-Life forces in gaining respect for developing human life in the womb by restricting abortions to the early stages of pregnancy, the assault on the dignity of the the unborn has been broadened in ways seen unimaginable only months ago. 

Not only the unborn, but being-born and already-born infants who are not wanted by their mothers are at risk under terrible legislation already signed into law in New York State with similar bills introduced in other states like the bill in Virginia.

Archbishop Naumann, the chair of the Pro-Life Activities of the USCCB has called such legislation "pure evil." Read his full statement below:

“Abortion has always been built on a lie. Today, the lie is switching from 'abortion is a choice' to 'abortion is healthcare.' A law recently passed in New York not only legalizes abortion essentially for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy but removes any protection for children born alive after abortion. A similar bill was proposed in Virginia along with several other states, all in the name of women’s health.
This legislation is evil, pure and simple. And it shocks the conscience to see such evil legislation greeted with raucous cheers and standing ovations. Most grieving to our Lord of Life is that those who advocate for abortion put their eternal souls in jeopardy.
It is sickeningly dishonest to claim that women’s lives or health depend on intentionally killing their children. This is especially true for late-term abortion, which always involves the purposeful destruction of a child which could have been born alive, with much less risk to the mother, had they both received real healthcare.
Now is the time for all Catholics—bishops, priests, and laity—to fight for the unborn with renewed vigor. We must educate family, friends, legislators, and fellow citizens about how it is never necessary to intentionally kill unborn children in order to save their mothers. Local action is especially important. Though ending Roe v. Wade is a central goal of the pro-life movement, if the decision were overturned, only eleven states would immediately ban abortion; the other thirty-nine states would still allow it.
I urge Catholics, and thoughtful Americans of all religions or none at all to advocate for local change. Sign up for your State Catholic Conference or diocesan pro-life advocacy network, which can help you communicate to elected officials. Or seek out state and local pro-life groups, including parish respect life groups, that are making a difference at the state level.
Though we live in very dark days, we know that the Lord has already triumphed over death. But we must use this time on earth to be His hands and feet. This means each of us rededicating ourselves to prayer, and fighting for the most vulnerable among us, especially unborn children and their mothers.”

St. Brigid



A St. Brigid's Cross Shown With Bridget's Well in Kildare County

St. Bridget wove a cross from some straw on the floor of hut where where she had been summoned by a Pagan chieftain for healing. His curiosity about her crafting led to his conversion to the faith.

May we be equally cunning and inventive in the presence of pagan power. May St. Brigid's intercession help protect us from the power of evil and flames of destruction in the world.