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?
Today's celebration begins a week of prayer for religious liberty in the diocese of the United States. We don't need reminders anymore how necessary this is, since with every passing year the atmosphere in the public square and in the media becomes more inimical to Christianity.
Join us after morning mass for a moment of reflection and prayer to continue the blessings of religious liberty in this country and strengthen our resolve to witness to our faith when necessary.
Today's first reading from 2 Timothy reminds us to stir the flame of faith we have in our hearts into action. Our faith can become quiet, almost dormant if we let it, like a cozy fire of dying embers. To keep the flame alive, it needs to be stirred and stoked.
Daily acts of charity, prayer and frequent reception of the sacraments all can stir the faith in our hearts from low to high.
Today's reading from James isn't the kind of address you would give at a typical graduation or ordination. Congratulations on all your plans...but you are a puff of smoke! And your plans? Who knows?
People may take too much offense to listen to James' follow-up: Make you plans in and for the Lord and then they will prosper.
Wednesdays after the 9 AM Mass until 4:00 PM
Wednesdays 11 PM until Midnight
Thursdays 6 PM until 7 PM
Our Novena for Life, "Nine Days for Life," concludes with prayer after tomorrow morning's 9 AM mass. Praying each intention aloud and quietly reading the reflection gave us much to think about and an appreciation of the breadth of the Church's teachings on the dignity of human life without veering too far from the traditional groupings of concerns under this category of Church teachings.
If we ever think we can't change, we have the example of St. Paul to consider. His hatred for Christ and his followers changed to ardent love and apostolic zeal.
Is there someone we dislike, do we feel stuck in a rut of habit, routine or thinking? Can our love for Christ burn with more ardor, as the prayers from the Mass for the Conversion of St. Paul implore?
There is hope. There is Christ.
This morning we began praying the Novena for Life after morning mass. Please join us or participate online by clicking the link below to reach the website of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) for the materials.
This year, for the first time ever, our president will address marchers at the March for Life in Washington, DC via satellite hookup from the Oval Office. There are still seats on the bus Holy Cross has chartered for the day trip tomorrow (Friday). Call our office to reserve and pay for your seat now.
Joining together to pray for the protection of human life at all its stages is a crucial contemporary mission.
Beginning Wednesday, February 7th we will resume the nocturnal adoration from 11 PM to midnight at Holy Cross Church. During Advent we always had a few faithful adorers; hopefully the word will spread and more will find the quiet time with the Lord after the day has ended fruitful. We’ll see how the reception of this interesting devotion goes and continue it for the immediate future. If more than several individuals volunteer to pray, we might take the next steps toward establishing a Nocturnal Adoration Society with its accompanying privileges and indulgences with Bishop O’Connell’s permission.
The landscape surrounding the stone churches of Cappadocia seems like from another world. Today we celebrate the feast day of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen. For centuries, monks and nuns inhabited dwellings in the desert hewn from the volcanic stone. Surely such starkly beautiful and simple images of the desert dwellings formed the spirituality of the Eastern Fathers of the Church.
To close the Centennial Year of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, we prayed the prayer dedicating ourselves to Our Lady after the 12 noon Mass and then processed the statue, which has been in our sanctuary for the past six months, to its new home in the St. Francis Chapel.
Today Holy Cross School children in the lower grades gave thanks to God for their many blessings. Each of our 3rd grade students had drawn and colored a picture of something they were thankful for and they presented their artwork on a PowerPoint as we prayed for their intention. We prayed The Lord's Prayer and sent everyone on their way reminded to give thanks to God and to someone special in their lives.
Proceeding from the central insight that Jesus is Lord and judge, but also a loving Savior, Gertrude meditated on Christ's great love for us. Her insights planted the seed in the church for the growth of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Fostering our loving relationship with Jesus requires the same measures we take to show our love to spouse, family and friends: frequent communication, times of intimacy and quiet, loving acts of sacrifice and self-donation, listening and more.
God of power
Justice and mercy
Stir up in our hearts
A spirit of gratitude
For those who have
Served our nation
In war and in peace.
May their love and sacrifice for country
Be returned by us
In care, support
And remembrance one hundred-fold.
God of compassion
Shield all who defend the cause of freedom
In our nation’s service
Gather our deceased veterans close to your heart
And protect those still in our midst with
Health in body and spirit.
Prosper the cause of freedom they served.
Inspire many to follow their example of self-sacrifice
Remembering that it is better to serve
Than to be served