Preaching

St. Darerca - Sister of St. Patrick, Mother of Saints

Darerca
Saint Darerca

St. Darerca is said to be the second most popular female saint in Ireland after St. Bridget. She was sister to St. Patrick and had 19 children, many of whom became bishops and saints themselves. She and her children helped St. Patrick evangelize Ireland. They could have made their own congregation!

Not many other specifics are known for certain about her life. I've shown her here with a shamrock on her cowl for each of her children, holding wedding bands for her motherhood and an Irish cross for her evangelizing role with her brother. 


St. Enda - Founder of Irish Monasticism

Enda
Sts. Fanchea and Enda

Saint Enda was converted from warrior-prince to priest by his sister, St. Abbess Fanchea. He spent his life as a monk, eventually becoming abbot of a monastery on the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland. These barren islands were chosen because of their inaccessibility and difficult climate.   He was a tremendous influence on other Irish saints over history, including our own saints Kieran and  Colomba. 

Well
St. Enda's Holy Well is located on the island of Inisheer, the easternmost of the three Aran Islands.

Aran_Islands_location

The Irish monks on the Aran Islands lived austere lives of poverty, penance and prayer. We need not exactly copy their example, but are nevertheless called to abstain from some pleasures, do penance and pray during Lent.


St John Nepomucene

JohnSt. John Nepomucene Statue and Memorial on the Charles River Bridge in Prague.

St. John Nepomucene was martyred on the orders of King Wencelaus IV for refusing to divulge the sins of his wife, the queen confessed in the Sacrament of Confession. He was imprisoned, tortured, burned then thrown affixed to a wheel to drown in the Charles River.

The bridge holds a memorial to St. John, including the spot from which he is said to have been thrown. Touching or rubbing his effigy on the plaque is said to bring good luck, or a guaranteed return visit to Prague. A dog, a sign of loyalty, is also featured in one of the memorial plaques and it too has been burnished by well wishers and luck seekers.

The Seal of the Sacrament of Confession has generally been respected by our nation's laws but due to the recent scandals in the church, is now under attack at the moment in New York State. Please pray we have the wisdom to deal effectively with child abuse without attacking the seal of the confessional.

Bridge Memorial
The site where St. John was thrown from the bridge.

DogA loyal hound burnished with affection.


Leviticus 19

This morning's reading from Leviticus gives what the bible calls, "various rules of conduct," distinct from the 10 Commandments. A ban on tattoos, eating meat not drained of animal blood, cutting beards and other demands on daily life, were meant to remind a faithful Jew of the Lord's dominion. Also mentioned in the same passage is gleaning, the practice of leaving behind 10% of a field's produce so the poor may also harvest the land. Instead of extracting every last penny of profit, landowners were required to share their produce - a good admonition for all of us this Lent. 

Gleaning
Gleaners

The Finger Pointing To The Moon

Fingersmoon

The finger represents the spiritual practices which point toward something greater, not something to be focused on in itself. 

Although this metaphor comes from Buddhism, it has been used by Catholic spiritual directors to place proper emphasis on all spiritual practices. Spiritual practices should lead to God, not become an end in themselves. Since we love and need tangible sacramentals, there is always a risk we may place too much emphasis on them.

In Lent, these tangibles are our ascetic and charitable practices. They are meant to lead us to God, not distract us and surely not to become an end in themselves.  

Catholic spiritual writers describe the same movement in proper Marian devotion. Mary always points to Jesus.

Mary

May all our works of charity, acts of self control and prayers kindle in us a more fervent love of God.

 

 


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

Wisdom

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

Cross 

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

ArtLogoTreeofknowledge

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.