Preaching

Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time

KeepStuff

This is the tallest public storage facility built by this company and is located in the Bronx, New York. It stands 12 stories tall and boasts 4,000 units. Ironically, some of the apartment buildings the Bronx is famous for can be seen dotting the horizon, bearing a striking resemblance to the proud new structure.

I can’t help but thinking of these modern storage units whenever Jesus tells the parable of the rich property owner who has so much, he must build someplace else to house his goods. Despite expert advice that renting one or more of these units is always bad economics, people still do it - mostly because they can’t bear to part with “their stuff.”

It’s not simply greed or economic insecurity that drives such motives, it’s refusal to accept the reason Jesus gives for the rich man’s blindness - refusal to admit we don’t get to take our stuff  with us on our final trip, nor guarantee  anyone else will treat it as a treasure.


St. Peter Eymard

Peter
Sculpture of Peter Eymard by Auguste Rodin

St. Peter Eymard founded two religious congregations dedicated to the adoration of the Eucharist and deepening our devotion to the Eucharist.

His instructions for how to make a holy hour can be very helpful to modern minds who like recipes or steps to follow and for introducing a more comprehensive prayer to entire holy hour. He suggests the hour should be roughly divided into equal portions of:

Adoration

Thanksgiving

Propitiation

Petition

Propitiation might be the most unfamiliar term on the list, but it means expressing sorrow not only our own sins, but the countless indignities and insults to which the Blessed Sacrament and the Body of Christ is subjected around the world, the coldness of so many prayers and the abandonment of the Eucharistic presence in so many tabernacles around the world. Since our prayers and sorrow are inevitably insufficient, it also involves offering the gift of the Eucharist in ultimate propitiation. 

Peter Eymard's essays and homilies are good antidotes for a too casual attitude toward the Eucharist.


What Did Don Quixote and St. Ignatius of Loyola Have In Common?

Windmill
An historic windmill in La Mancha, Spain.

The fictional character of Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote and Ignatius were both fond of reading tales of chivalry and romance, I suppose the modern equivalent of trashy adventure books. Don Quixote is said to have his brain addled by reading so many of them, inspiring him to undertake his fanciful adventures.

Ignatius' thirst for romance novels was thwarted when there were none available for him to read during his recovery from a battle wound. The only reading material on hand was The Golden Legend (a life of the saints) and a Life of Christ. Reading these materials led him not to adventures of knights errantry, but of Christian discipleship.

The materials we read the the media we immerse ourselves in have a major contribution to our mindset and our spiritual outlook on the world. Let's be careful, especially with the media our children swim in.

 

 


God's Laws Are Immutable Not Ours

Field
Wheat Field by Vincent VanGogh

Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. The Scribes and Pharisees concerned over the disciples' breaking  human laws had it backward. Only God's laws are immutable.

The Church has interpreted these laws with the guidance of the Holy Spirit for centuries and strives to limit its dogmatic principles to precisely the immutable commands of Christ for his church.

It is equally incorrect to imply everything the church teaches is unchangeable as it is to say all that the church teaches is subject to change. 


Exodus and Revelation

Moses

A study for Moses and the Burning Bush by Henry Osawa Tanner, an important African American ex patriot who took up residence in Paris during the early 1900's to join the flourishing artistic community there.

God's revelation to Moses came about through Moses' noticing something strange and taking the time to investigate it, not shrugging it off or deciding he was too busy. He then had the humility to take off his shoes and follow instructions from the unseen God.

God's revelation to us also comes through seeing with the eyes of faith the inconsistencies in the world, taking the time to ponder and investigate them and having the humility to accept the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to do something unexpected.

 


St. Junipero Serra

Serra

The location of the grave of Junipero Serra is discovered, now enclosed within a mission shrine in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. It is seen being honored several days after Serra was canonized by the Catholic Church by Pope Francis in 2015.

One of Junipero's slogans, "Always forward, never back," emphasizes his missionary zeal to spread the gospel. 

 


Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred-heartA monumental sculpture of the Sacred Heart surmounts the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Tibidabo, Spain atop a mountain overlooking Barcelona. Jesus' love for us extends to the whole world in self-sacrificing generosity, a model of perfect love.

Can we spare some time with the Sacred Heart in prayer this day to acknowledge his great gifts to us?


St. Cyril of Alexandria

CyrilAs you can see from the sculpture, Cyril brooked no compromise with Nestorius or his views on the nature of Jesus Christ. Although the sculpture suggests it, Cyril did not actually kill Nestorius but the Council of Ephesus affirmed the truth that Mary is properly called the Mother of God and condemned Nestorianism. The Nestorians disputed that Mary, a human, could properly be called the Mother of God, only Mother of Jesus' humanity since it was not inextricably linked to his divinity. In fact, the Council of Chalcedon would later declare that the divinity and humanity of Christ are united indivisibly. 

 


Nativity of St. John the Baptist

JohnSt. John the Baptist certainly did point The Way, to the Lamb of God, serving a crucial hinge between the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. Today the church celebrates his birth with a solemnity. I like this sculpture which shows his seriousness of purpose and his classic gesture of pointing the way to Christ. 

 


The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Today as we pray about the mystical Body of Christ and His Real Presence among us and in the Eucharist, let us consider the spiritual and corporal blessings of human organ donation. The presence of a living portion of us abiding in another and giving them life and health is a spiritual consolation only living organ donors can savor, but a spiritual reality all Catholics who ponder the meaning of Jesus' salvific dwelling with us can appreciate.

Blood and blood components, bone marrow, kidney and in some cases portions of liver can be donated to those in need of them. For some of these donations the risk to the healthy donor is minimal, for others more significant. 

After death, many vital organs can be useful and life saving for others. Tissue donation, however,  is a bit more complicated and to some extent has become overly commercialized, in my opinion, for example by cosmetic companies who manufacture human based material. Donors may use to explore the use to which their tissues may be put. 

Permission for vital organ donation in the case of traumatic death is available for licensed drivers. Health care proxies and advanced directives can also specify organ donations of various kinds.

Sacred-heart


St. Aloysius Gonzaga

St. Aloysius' youthful zeal for spreading the gospel and his yearning to be closer to God are good examples for the tepid spirituality of many modern Christians. His courageous care for plague victims lead to his own death despite care from his superiors to shield him from the most infectious cases. Even his spiritual director  advised him to not be so strict with his fasting and other ascetic practices. We can still imitate his dedication and effort without following him in exact detail. 

GonzagaIt looks like the elements have taken their toll on the lily he holds.


And Lead Us Not Into Temptation

AppleToday's gospel reading of the Lord's Prayer recalls the words our Savior gave us. Recent discussions swirling around the translations of the Our Father from Greek to other languages have been highlighted by the decision of the French and Italian bishops' conferences to amend the French and Italian translations of the ending of the prayer.

The controversy involves not only the best literal translation from Greek to each language, but the proper idiomatic expressions to use in each language to convey the meaning. 

Pope Francis has been outspoken in support of changing language which can be misunderstood to mean God tempts us to failure but instead does in all in his power to aid our salvation. 

Several arguments for change and against change have been made. The English speaking bishops of the world and the US bishops will take up the matter at a future date.

 


St. Romuald

Shutterstock_618441725Saint Romuald was a hermit at heart who developed a style of living for monks who sought more solitude than typically afforded by the existing monastic communities.

A unique blend of "living alone with others," his Camaldolese monasteries are composed of monks living in individual, small "rooms" gathered around a communal chapel and refectory. 

Unlike the "cells" in other monasteries, they are not typically located under one roof as, for example, a dormitory, but each has its own small garden enclosed from the others. 

The monks take meals on solemn feasts together, but otherwise eat alone, coming into contact with other monks during the course of any assigned work they share in common. 

They are a potent sign of a needed balance between solitude and community for our own culture and for individual Catholics pursuing a closer prayer relationship with God. 


Lex Talionis Is No Laughing Matter

Talon

Here are the talons of an American Eagle, powerful enough to crush a human arm and latch closed in place without any further effort. The lex talionis was the law of the talon, the law of revenge which crushed enemies in vengeful acts of retaliation.

Jesus gives us the law of love in this morning's gospel. Instead of crushing revenge, an outstretched hand of mercy and reconciliation. 

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