Pray for our bishops who gather this week for a spiritual retreat at Mundelein Seminary in the Archdiocese of Chicago for the wisdom, strength and prudence to deal with the abuse scandals besetting the Church.
Both St. Paul and Jesus have encouraging words for us in today's Scriptures: keep trying, be encouraged, don't give up!
Achieving anything worthwhile is difficult - moral goodness is no exception. One important way to keep encouraged is by prayer, especially Eucharistic Adoration.
Stop in and spend some quiet time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament on Wednesdays during the day or on Thursday evenings. Even one hour will make a tremendous difference to your entire week.
Thank you to all those parishioners, who having prayed a Mass of Christian Burial this year at Holy Cross for a family member or friend, returned to share Eucharist with us on All Souls Evening. After the homily, each family lit a candle on the Tree of Life in memory of a deceased family member.
Hospitality and refreshments were provided after the mass in the St. Joseph's Room downstairs.
Faithful rosary prayers gathered in the Marian Prayer Garden after the 12 noon mass to pray the rosary in unity with others all across the country for the sanctification and peace of the church and the world.
It seems that those crying loudest for "justice" are the ones most in need of mercy and sometimes the least likely to extend mercy to others.
If our own hearts seem reluctant to offer mercy, it may help to realize that all genuine mercy comes from the Heart of Jesus. We can pray for His mercy on ourselves and our transgressors.
Vanity paintings, like the readings from Ecclesiastes, focus on the transient nature of life and the fleeting nature of natural beauty. In paintings, they may show cherished hobbies, an opened book, a burned out candle, flowers (sometimes past their prime or dying), a half-eaten meal and many times (in case we miss the point) a human skull.
Our belief in eternal life and the permanence of heaven, make vanity scenes nostalgic and sad, but not tragic.
Twin physicians who became Christians and evangelized in word and deed through their free patient care and prayer. They were tortured and martyred under the emperor Diocletian for failing to renounce their faith. Many cures were attributed to their relics and prayerful intercession.
It is well that we remember that prayer and medicine work best together. Nor should necessary health care require that the patients become penniless.
President of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Renews Commitment for Greater Effectiveness and Transparency in Disciplining Bishops
The President of the USCCB has reiterated his commitment to work with Pope Francis in establishing mechanisms to improve the effectiveness of child protection procedures and oversight of adults working in the church including seminarians. Read the full text of the Cardinal's letter which should give us all encouragement in this time of testing for the church.
" The more she is buffeted by storms, the more I am reminded that the Church's firm foundation is Jesus Christ. "
One of my favorite themes in art is Christ on the Sea of Galilee. Eugene Delacroix painted three versions and one of the stolen Rembrandt's depicted it as well.
Inattentiveness sometimes leads not simply to missing an appointment or making a miscalculation, but to missing the boat entirely.
St. Monica is one example of the power of persistent prayer. Her husband reportedly converted to Christianity on his deathbed and we know, of course, about the conversion of her famous son Augustine. I like this statue of her, because even though the opening prayer at this morning's mass invoked her many tears, it doesn't show her crying or sorrowful, but determined and resolute. According to Augustine's account, Monica was privileged with at least one experience of mystical prayer. Persistent prayer can be its own reward.
The Carmelite "Brown" Scapular was shown by the Virgin Mary to St. Simon Stock, an early superior of the Carmelites during a time when their Order was under persecution, as an assurance of Mary's intercession especially at the hour of their deaths. The small, portable scapular of today derives from the work garment of the Carmelites. Keeping this in mind, the wearing of the brown scapular reminds us our responsibility to work for the Kingdom and of Mary's loving intercession for the disciples of her Son.
Daytime and night time scapulars from the late 1800's worn by the Carmelites.
Most of us cope with little superstitions without too much of an impact on our daily lives. Saying "God bless you," after a sneeze is even attributed to a superstition regarding the devil.
Sometimes superstitions and arbitrary actions can become compulsory for the individual and begin to hem their lives in with restrictive rituals they must perform or avoid. Their daily rituals become far more oppressive than crossing fingers or throwing salt over their shoulder. Let us pray that those who are held prisoner to these compulsive rituals are loosed from their bonds by God's grace and the compassionate, knowledgeable care of others.
Too often even our religious faith can become more about following rules or avoiding sin than cultivating a relationship with a God who loves us. Let us ask to experience God's love more fully especially in the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist.
Think for a moment about the genius of a rule written over one thousand years ago, which still has relevance for a community of persons to live in harmony for their whole lives. It's often summarized in a short phrase, "ora et labora," i.e. pray and work, but that doesn't quite do it justice. It's not as if you go off to work everyday, come home and then pray. No, the prayer and the work are one. Both are done for God.
Faith is a two way street
A relationship between two persons.
Divine faith is a relationship
Between us and Jesus.
It’s unlikely that anyone hard of face
And obstinate of heart
Will have faith with you.
The first reading says it: they'll have a frozen look, no matter what you say;
They'll exhibit a stubbornness of heart that remembers every slight.
When we tell our spouse, our friend
Our son or daughter
"I have faith in you" – then we work toward
Real trust, real love.
Jesus offered himself in faith
And was rejected by those who
Watched him grow up.
They prejudged him;
Their minds were made up;
Their conclusions already drawn.
He was the carpenter’s son
Nothing else, surely nothing greater.
Their faces were frozen
And their hearts hardened.
It can be the same way with us:
I’ve prayed before, I’ve asked for this 1.000 times
I know what the church will say
That freezes us into an old way of being
And eliminates the possibility of
A living faith strengthening
Our relationship with Jesus.
Faith is offered to us
To grow, to change,
To cooperate with God’s grace.
I think of the Thai soccer team
Trapped deep in the cave.
Their hopes were rewarded
When help arrived.
Now they need faith in God,
In their own ability,
In the skill and care of the divers
And in prophet-like courage
To save themselves and the others.
They need to learn how to dive,
To overcome their fears
And do it quickly and well.
One headline read: Fear and courage are both contagious.
Your own courage helps someone else.
And they need to cooperate
With the grace they have been given
To be rescued.
So do we.
One of Gustave Dore's many beautiful illustrations of the Bible. The prophet Amos finds himself isolated by God's truth and set apart for a mission to preach repentance and faithfulness to God's covenant.
Today is a day to give thanks
To those who have served and sacrificed
To preserve our God given liberties
To thank those who have handed on
Their faith and their civic virtues
To we their children
And to pray that our nation always
Walks with our God
That God give us strength and courage
To do so
And to guide us on the way of mutual respect
A New Kind of Bigotry
Over the short history of our nation, we have struggled with bigotry of various kinds and generally have forged agreement that bigotry has no place in a democratic country. Not only does it marginalize certain groups, often denying them their fundamental God-given rights but tears at the fabric of our common good.
The consensus that irrational hatred for certain groups is odious seems to be dissolving over the last decade or more. Now it seems acceptable for certain groups to demonize even those who have different opinions than their own. Rational discourse is gone. Civic protections become unraveled by press or mob outcry. Employers cave into pressure from the loudest special interest group who protest the employability of persons holding certain opinions. We don’t discuss, we litigate.
As we reflect on the history of our nation this weekend, perhaps we can nourish the hope for rational civic discourse and debate to return to the public square. If we can’t even talk with our fellow citizens and elected representatives, how can we hope to hold our own in the world.
The spirit of hope and healing which Jesus brings in today’s gospels and the reminder that we are all made in the image of likeness of a loving God from Wisdom can focus our prayer for national unity around respect for persons, not only of different races or lifestyles, but also Americans who in good conscience hold different opinions from our own.
In this morning's first reading we learn of the fall and captivity of the Northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians. Though they are part of the chosen people, they ignored repeated warnings from prophets to reform their lives and worship only the God of the Israelites. They were carried off into captivity and never received permission to return to the homeland. They have become the "lost tribes of Israel."
Sobering warning for us we celebrate Religious Liberty week in the United States, that our responsibility is not to pray that God helps and protects our right to religious liberty, but that we walk in the Way of the Lord. If we find ourselves lost, who has wandered, God or us?