Choose Wisely

October 14, 2020

…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:18-25)

There are certain passages in Scripture that, in very simple terms, define what God envisioned when He created us. And we may have gotten there, too…if He hadn’t given us free will.

God offers us the fruits of the Spirit as His gift to us.

Imagine a world in which we all accepted that gift – a world of love, peace, and generosity. The fruits of the Spirit are ours for taking. We can choose to love, and to be joyful and peaceful. We can choose to be patient, kind, and generous. We can choose to be faithful and gentle. And yes, even self-control is a choice. These are all choices that glorify God and serve others.

Unfortunately, as broken human beings, we often exercise our free will and choose to go in another direction. We make choices that undermine the fruits of the Spirit and serve only ourselves.

Turning our lives around is also a choice.

What choices will you make today?

Staying Focused

October 13, 2020

After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. (Luke 11:37-41)

In today’s reading from Luke, the actions of Jesus were called into question. The Jews were keeping a close eye on Jesus and His followers. This ragtag group did not seem concerned about abiding by the Jewish laws and traditions. Why did they choose to ignore these laws?

Jesus did not dismiss Jewish law, but emphasized through His actions that He and His disciples were staying focused on what was most important.

We are a Church of many customs, traditions, and rites, all of which are important and enhance our faith. Jesus would tell us that if we get so caught up in these “rules” that we lose sight of loving God with all of our heart and loving our neighbor as ourselves, then our priorities are misplaced.

The laws of the Church are put in place to help us focus on the things that are most important, not cause us to lose sight of them.

Good Pope John

October 12, 2020

Yesterday was the Feast of Saint John XXIII. The following about this humble servant comes from the Franciscan Media website:

Saint John XXIII’s Story

Although few people had as great an impact on the 20th century as Pope John XXIII, he avoided the limelight as much as possible. Indeed, one writer has noted that his “ordinariness” seems one of his most remarkable qualities.

The firstborn son of a farming family in Sotto il Monte, near Bergamo in northern Italy, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was always proud of his down-to-earth roots. In Bergamo’s diocesan seminary, he joined the Secular Franciscan Order.

After his ordination in 1904, Fr. Roncalli returned to Rome for canon law studies. He soon worked as his bishop’s secretary, Church history teacher in the seminary, and as publisher of the diocesan paper.

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“Committed to both Him and me”

October 15, 2020 – Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I can do all things through Christ who is my strength. (Philippians 4:13)

The passage we hear in today’s second reading, from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, holds a special place in my heart.

Early on the morning of my ordination in 2012, my wife Carol suggested we go to St. Pius (our parish) to pray together before heading downtown for the ordination. After joining hands and praying together, she said she had something for me. From her purse, she took a small box containing a ring. She explained that it was a “new” wedding ring.

Of course, I had a wedding ring that had served me well for the first 29 years of our marriage, so I was unsure why she felt like I needed a new one.

The ring she gave me was silver in color. It had Jesus’ crown of thorns engraved on it, along with the words of Philippians 4:13.

Carol said, “We are starting a new chapter in our marriage. Christ has always been a part of our marriage, but from now on He will be a part of it in a very powerful way. This ring will remind you of your commitment to both Him and me.”

It was one of the most loving, selfless acts I have ever experienced. I draw strength from the words on the ring as well as from the memory of this selfless act.

How Do Those Clothes Fit?

October 10, 2020

For all of you who were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Galatians 3:22-29)

What does it mean to be “clothed in Christ”?

It simply means that we don’t put our faith aside when we go out into the world. The minimum expectation is that we take it with us. However, the goal is to go beyond the minimum.

When we cloth ourselves in Christ, we “put Him on.” We become Him for others. No longer is our faith based on what we do; our faith becomes who we are.

Through baptism, you have been clothed in Christ. How do those clothes fit?

God Responds to Persistence

October 8, 2020

Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,” and he says in reply from within, “Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.” I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. (Luke 11:5-13)

I was on a youth retreat once at which this reading from Luke was used as an evening meditation. I was prepared to reflect afterwards about the loving generosity of God, who is willing to answer the door for us if we are persistent in our prayer.

I read the passage and began my reflection. A hand went up. I nodded at a young man who said, “I have heard this reading several times. Each time I hear it, I keep thinking that the guy needing the bread is kind of annoying. What is the difference between being annoying and being persistent?”

My mind raced. What on-the-spot theological wisdom could I provide?

I was about to offer an off-the-cuff response when a young lady said, “It depends on where the desire is coming from. If you are seeking something that is a desire of the flesh, with selfish motive, and you keep asking for it over and over again, that’s annoying. If it is a desire of the heart, pure and unselfish, then you are being persistent.”

Yes, that’s what I was going to say…

Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary

October 7, 2020 – Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary

The Story of Our Lady of the Rosary

Saint Pius V established this feast in 1573. The purpose was to thank God for the victory of Christians over the Turks at Lepanto—a victory attributed to the praying of the rosary. Clement XI extended the feast to the universal Church in 1716.

The development of the rosary has a long history. First a practice developed of praying 150 Our Fathers in imitation of the 150 Psalms. Then there was a parallel practice of praying 150 Hail Marys. Soon a mystery of Jesus’ life was attached to each Hail Mary. Though Mary’s giving of the rosary to Saint Dominic is recognized as a legend, the development of this prayer form owes much to the followers of Saint Dominic. One of them, Alan de la Roche, was known as “the apostle of the rosary.” He founded the first Confraternity of the Rosary in the 15th century. In the 16th century, the rosary was developed to its present form—with the 15 mysteries: joyful, sorrowful and glorious. In 2002, Pope John Paul II added five Mysteries of Light to this devotion.

Reflection

The purpose of the rosary is to help us meditate on the great mysteries of our salvation. Pius XII called it a compendium of the gospel. The main focus is on Jesus—his birth, life, death, and resurrection. The Our Fathers remind us that Jesus’ Father is the initiator of salvation. The Hail Marys remind us to join with Mary in contemplating these mysteries. They also make us aware that Mary was and is intimately joined with her Son in all the mysteries of his earthly and heavenly existence. The Glory Bes remind us that the purpose of all life is the glory of the Trinity.

The rosary appeals to many. It is simple. The constant repetition of words helps create an atmosphere in which to contemplate the mysteries of God. We sense that Jesus and Mary are with us in the joys and sorrows of life. We grow in hope that God will bring us to share in the glory of Jesus and Mary forever.

Source: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/our-lady-of-the-rosary/

God comes to you everyday, disguised as your life

October 6, 2020

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.”  (Luke 10:38-42)

We all have a bit of Martha in us, don’t we? We get so caught up in the stuff of our lives, that we lose focus.

Maybe, like Martha, we worry about all that we have to do. Or perhaps our minds are full of “could haves” and “should haves” – we spend our time worrying about things that happened in the past over which we have no control or we anxiously look ahead to what may or may not happen in the future.

So much of our time is spent looking back or looking forward that we lose sight of the here and now. When we are not living in the present, we are not being present to others. In addition, we are not being open to the presence of God.

Remember, God comes to you everyday, disguised as your life.

Homily: THIS is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things!

October 5, 2020

I had prepared a homily for this past weekend, only to be reminded that it was Respect Life Sunday. So, I wrote a new homily more fitting to that theme.

The following is the homily I had originally written. Since I may not be able to use it for another 3 years or so, I thought I would share it now.

The homily is based on the readings for the Twenty-Seven Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 5:1-7 / Philippians 4:6-9 / Matthew 21:33-43

If you are a parent, perhaps you can recall a situation similar to this: You give a special gift to your children and within a very short time – perhaps even minutes – the gift is broken and unusable. For instance, fresh out of the package, one of the wings of a remote control airplane is snapped off as Child 1 and Child 2 fight over who will go first.

You may also remember the day a toy, specifically designed for outdoor use, was used indoors, resulting in disaster. The nerf football is thrown by Child 1 over the outstretched arms of Child 2, hitting a shelf in the living room and causing a priceless antique vase to crash to the floor.

Or perhaps you used to be Child 1 or Child 2 and remember one of your parents saying to you in a loud, exasperated voice: “THIS is why we can’t have nice things!”

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Homily for Respect Life Sunday: Gospel of Life

October 4, 2020 – Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Isaiah 5:1-7 / Philippians 4:6-9 / Matthew 21:33-43

The following is a homily I will be delivering at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis, IN today (audio version can be found at the end of the post):

Carol and I were scheduled to babysit two of our grandsons on Friday and Saturday. Knowing that would take most of our time and all of my focus, I started early on my homily preparation this week. My homily was written, edited, and practiced earlier than normal. It was deemed officially complete late Thursday night.

At 2:04 on Friday afternoon, Fr. Jim’s parish email blast arrived in my inbox. In it was a reminder that the Church recognizes Respect Life Sunday this weekend. I needed that reminder; I had forgotten that.

A part of me, the lazy part perhaps, wanted to go ahead with the homily I had already prepared. The rest of me, in particular the part of me that contains my heart, knew I needed to start over.

There has never been a time, at least in my lifetime, that people have needed to hear the respect life message more. My already-completed homily was put away for another time. (Thanks a lot, Fr. Jim)

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