Monday, October 20, 2014

Not Possessions

As we live through the years to the afternoons and evenings of our lives, we begin finally to realize as Jesus admonished us:  "one's life does not consist of possessions."  Indeed, we "can't take them with us" and the question arises "what do we do with them?"   Sudden death leaves the decision to others, but not everyone can bank on that.  We can focus on what does make us happy...family, healthy relationships, enjoying the good events and people who come into our lives each day.  These are the "possessions" which count.  The more of these we have, the less we will be dependent on the material, and can find the freedom to dispose of them and pass them on to those who could use them. 
Bro. Rene

Sunday, October 19, 2014

World Mission Sunday

Collections will be taken up in parishes across the globe to supply funds for the 1,100 parishes considered to be mission parishes.  Pope St. John Paul II set the date for the collection as the second last Sunday in October, but this year it coincides with what would have been the Memorial of the North American Martyrs: St. Isaac Jogues and Companions.  Because Sundays take precedence over feasts and memorials, the Mass for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time is being used. However, their missionary spirit still serves as an example to us.  It is also the day when the Extraordinary Synod on the family ends and Pope Paul VI was beatified.  Pope Paul VI in his encyclical, Evangelium Nuntiandi set the tone for missionary work in a Post Vatican II Church.
With these powerful "mentors" giving impetus to Mission Sunday, we might consider how we can be missionaries ourselves.  The easy way is to donate to the collection, but more than that, can we live more fully the message of Jesus, by professing our faith through kindness, service to the needy, listening to others, forgiving ourselves and others and welcoming all into our circle?  We preach by example, by deed, more powerfully than by words. May we come to see ourselves as this kind of missionary as we take part in our Sunday and weekday activities.  We need to keep reminding ourselves that we too have a mission right here; we don't have to go abroad.
Bro. Rene

Saturday, October 18, 2014

St. Luke's Message

The Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist turns our attention to his Gospel and companion work, the Acts of the Apostles.  Tradition and legend combine to reveal Luke, a Gentile convert born in Antioch, a close friend and fellow traveler of St. Paul, a physician and an artist. Taylor Caldwell popularized Luke's story in her memorable novel, Dear and Glorious Physician.
Luke's ability to paint pictures with words is obvious in his close attention to detail and his compassion as a physician is evident in the many stories of mercy and forgiveness. St. John Paul II has dubbed Luke, The Gospel of Mercy.   He alone tells the parable of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, more aptly titled, The Forgiving Father. Luke also makes is a point that Jesus came for ALL, especially the poor.  Readers of his Gospel should be moved to actions that alleviate their plight by sharing time, treasure and talent. 
In the Acts, the power of the Holy Spirit dominates the tale of the missionary efforts of St. Paul and the miraculous spread of Christianity in the Mediterranean basin.  Luke's talent as a narrator not only makes historic facts come alive, but showcases the Holy Spirit to the point that this book is also known as The Gospel of the Holy Spirit.  May our faith find nourishment and strength in the writings of our Dear and Glorious Physician as well as move us to live his message of mercy, forgiveness and the inclusion of ALL.
Bro. Rene

Friday, October 17, 2014

More Than Many Sparrows

Jesus reminds us that we are so precious in the eyes of the Father that he who cares for the sparrows knows us also, even to the number of hairs on our head. He admonishes us not to be afraid for we are worth more than many sparrows.  Yet, sadly,  this same perception of the value of human life is not shared by everyone and in this country alone, 4,000 unborn children are aborted each day! Since 1973, 56 million babies have been terminated untimely before or after birth, this latter being even more shocking and inhuman than the "ordinary" abortion.
Thank God, there are people standing up to fight for the lives of these innocent children.  Last night the Pregnancy Care Center held its annual fund raising and awareness raising banquet and for sure, the value of life at all stages became apparent.  The Center counsels hundreds of people who are questioning giving birth to or aborting the child they have begotten.  The story of one of these cases was highlighted by the presence of the little boy who was "saved" through prayer and the love his mother and father received from the staff.  125 little children came into this world last year alone because of the care their parents experienced at the Center.
The keynote speaker, Jill Stanek, RN, who fought the battle against abortion on the hospital where she worked, showed us what courage and conviction can do, even when coming from one person.
Not physically martyred as was St. Ignatius of Antioch, whose Memorial it is today, but with the same fortitude and conviction she stood her course in defense of the value of life, even to the point of sacrificing her job; she sees with the eyes of God that we are worth more than many sparrows.  Can we have that same vision?  Prayers for the work of the Center, a visit and tour, volunteering, and financial aid can help preserve future lives.
Bro. Rene

Thursday, October 16, 2014

For The Love of Jesus

Often we hear the phrase, "For the love of God" or "For the love of Jesus" followed by something like, "Will you keep your mouth shut?" or "Will you do as I say?"  The phrase is one of exasperation and strong emphasis, appealing to one of the most profound realities we can experience, the love of God.
Taken literally and in another context, it explains why St. Margaret Mary Alacoque or St. Hedwig, whose Memorials we keep today, did what they did.  The young St. Margaret Mary loved Jesus so much that she spent hours in prayer with him, to the point where he appeared to her with his heart exposed in flames on his breast to show how much he loved her (us).  This is the now familiar Sacred Heart of Jesus image.  Not only did he want to SHOW his love, but he proposed 12 promises that flowed from this love, one of which being the practice of attending Mass for nine consecutive First Fridays with the guarantee of a happy death.
St. Hedwig loved God so much that even as the mother of seven, and wife of Henry, Duke of Bavaria, she practiced penances along with her prayers, walking barefoot to Mass daily in any kind of weather.  founding monasteries, and later, after Henry's death, joining the one where one of her daughters was Abbess.  She had the gift of miracles even while alive, and more so after her death.
We all have the power to love within us, but for various reasons keep I there instead of letting it out to the public as did these two saints.  Perhaps their example will help us today to take the wrappers off our love, and let it work miracles.
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Perspective

Keeping things in perspective.  This is not the usual thought that comes to mind when we talk about St. Teresa of Avila, whose Memorial we observe today; it is usually her love and joy of contemplation.  True, she is a Doctor of the Church for her writings on prayer, but she also was a very practical woman, who set up 16 monasteries under her reformed Rule.  This doesn't happen by sitting in the chapel, though, deep prayer is probably the most effective means of "getting things done", for it helps keep things in perspective.  We realize that what we are doing is God's work, not ours;  we remind ourselves that we are laboring out of love for God, not love of ourselves or the desire for popularity, or to leave a hefty legacy for future generations to brag about.  Deep prayer helps us find strength when our own doubts and weaknesses are overwhelming us, and we feel that we cannot continue.  St. Teresa experienced much opposition, detraction and criticism, that would have made the ordinary person give up.  But no, not her, for her focus was on God, the God with whom she could argue and blame for having so few friends because he treated them so roughly.  She kept things in perspective and her example invites us to do the same.
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Outward VS Inward Behaviors

When Jesus admonished the Pharisee about observing external rituals such as the washing of feet of the cleansing of the cups and dishes, while inside lurked plunder and evil, he could easily be speaking to each one of us.  How amazing it is what shadows hide within us and now and then come out to the open!  Instead of wasting time being appalled at them, it would be good to pray for God's mercy on us and for the situations or people who might have been involved in our bad thoughts.  Even these can be a grace, for God builds the rungs of our ladder to him with both our strengths and weaknesses, the good and the bad.
Bro. Rene