One For All

04/30/2015

O God, let all the nations praise you! – Psalm 67(4)

The Responsorial Psalm today sums up the mission of the Apostles. They weren’t just evangelizing the Jewish people. Pagans, Romans, in fact, all the Gentiles were welcome to receive the Good News of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection.

Rev. Mitch Pacwa delivered the sermon on today’s Daily Mass on EWTN.  Fr. Mitch spoke of his own personal journey to Jerusalem and a discussion he had with a Jewish gentleman who suggested that Father was in the wrong city, that he should be in Rome.

Fr. Mitch reflected that Jesus had come to save all mankind, not just those of a particular region, nationality, ethnic background, or even religion.

(This is my Wednesday post. I fell asleep before pressing “Publish.” Whoops!

zzzzzzzzzzzz…)

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.

 

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Nepal, Baltimore, Man’s Insignificance, and the Good Shepherd

04/28/2015

Nepal.

Baltimore.

Deadly tornadoes in Fairdale and Rochelle, Illinois and Sand Spring, Oklahoma.

Christians beheaded. Jews targeted.

Truth and polite honesty assailed as hate.

Loved ones taking ill. Beloved friends and family suddenly ripped from our lives.IMAG0345

Even pets. How many of us have lost a beloved furry baby… dogs, cats, horses, livestock?

And this list merely scratches the surface.

This is how the first four months of 2015 begins…

… can you believe we are already four months into 2015? Twenty fifteen?? …

… this is how it is every day in our fallen world.

It’s no different today than it was two thousand years ago.

IMAG0202 NaturalIMAG0177 disasters continue to rip apart our tranquility. Such is the world we live in. Hateful human beings destroy without regard for others. Sometimes without regard for themselves.

Such is the world we live in.IMAG0206

Such is the world we have always lived in.

And nature relentlessly takes its course. None of us live forever, no matter how hard we try to prolong our existence, in spite of the zealous attempts of the safety nazis (sorry) to shield us from every risk. Our sweet pets are taken from us before we want to let go.

The clock ticks. Our mortal bodies decay.

This is our existence.

Why?

What good is it?

My sister, Stephanie, sent me a 3 minute, 29 second video about how insignificant our world is in relation to the vastness of the universe. Part of the title suggests that the video will make you question your entire existence.

I dunno… for me, it affirms and strengthens my faith.

Consider, for a moment, the vastness of the universe. Consider, as the video demonstrates, how small is our planet compared to the size of the other planets that orbit our sun, how small Earth is in relation to our sun, how small our sun is in relation to other stars, how vast our galaxy in relation to our solar system, how small our galaxy is in relation to other galaxies.

How enormous is the universe in which we live?

Yet the God of that Universe, His creation, begot His Son through a mere mortal human being, the Virgin Mary, the lifespan of His existence less than a blink of an eye in the grand time span in the life of the ever-expanding Universe.

To save us.

Why?

Who knows?

But He did! And for more than 2,000 years — again, no more than a blink of an eye in the grand time span in the life of the ever-expanding Universe — Jesus Christ has been attracting believers who know that He showed up here.

For us.

I watch that video and I think of the vastness of the universe, too. I ponder the likelihood of the existence of life elsewhere.

And I know that if life exists on another planet elsewhere in God’s ever-expanding Universe, He has appeared there in the form of His own image, to save them as well.

How can I make such a bold statement?

Because the God of the Universe is Love. Because the God of the Universe is Mercy. Because the God of the Universe is Truth.

By definition.

I watch that video and I think of the vastness of the universe. I compare the safety of our atmosphere-controlled world to that of a mother’s womb. Temperature regulated. Just perfect for the lifespan of our time there… or here. Not without dangers. Not without natural disasters.

But meant to surround us in a cocoon of protection and relative safety.

Until it’s time to move on.

The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter.
And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon.
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him,
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.

My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.

My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” – John 10:22-30

The God of the Universe sent His only begotten Son to be our Good Shepherd. To get us from here to there.Kit Kat

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.

 

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This is Why We’re All Catholics

04/27/2015

That’s with a small ‘c,’ folks. Just not in the blog title.

‘What God has made clean, you are not to call profane.’ – Acts 11:9b

Today’s Reading is Acts 11:1-18, “The Baptism of the Gentiles Explained.”

When in college, I questioned my Roman Catholic faith. Two of my professors, Dr. Iver Yeager and Dr. David Koss, taught Religion courses. Excellent instructors.

I went to a public high school that had such a large Jewish student (and probably teacher) population, we had days off for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. I hadn’t had a religion class since graduating 8th grade from St. Nicholas. I even met my first atheist in high school.

I went to Catholic grade schools. Hearing that my friend, Karen, did not believe in any God was shocking to me. I had never even considered such a possibility.

So when I took an Introduction to the Bible course at this non-Catholic college and seriously courted a young woman who was Christian but not Catholic, I started questioning whether I truly believed that I was a Roman Catholic. Was I a non-Catholic Christian?

This was heavy stuff that I never ever contemplated when choosing a college. And here I was, on my own, evaluating and making life decisions. A pretend grown up in a (still) adolescent brain.

I have posted previously about my Catholic faith. I don’t intend to convert any of you by reading today’s simple post. But I will tell you that my contemplation, prayer, and study over the course of many months convinced me that to be Catholic is to honor the tradition of the Apostles and the will of Jesus Christ.

Not because somebody said so. Because I saw it and believed it.

What do I believe?

I believe that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. I believe that:

(God) never cease(s) to gather a people to (Himself), so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to (His) name. – from Eucharistic Prayer No. 3, Third Edition of the Roman Missal

Think about it. Jesus instituted the celebration of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday. He commanded the disciples to “do this in memory of me.” I cannot possibly convince you in a several hundred word blog post, so I point you here instead.

I believe that the popes form an unbroken lineage of bishops that began with Jesus hand-selecting Simon Peter as the first Bishop of Rome.

I believe that Confession is a sacramental sign of forgiveness that we receive directly from Jesus Christ, through the Catholic priest as a conduit for Jesus Himself.

And I believe that today’s Reading, in which Peter, through visions, comes to understand that the Gentiles are as worthy of believing as “the circumcised believers,” confirms that the Christian church is a catholic (universal) church.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.


Who Comforts You?

04/26/2015

Father Fred’s dog died.

Father told us what happened this week to his dog, Annie, his constant companion of twelve and a half years.

She had not been well. He took her to the vet this week and received the awful news that she was not going to get better and it was best that she be euthanized.

It’s okay to do that to dogs. Not humans.

He confessed to the veterinarian, whom he had never met, that Annie’s illness was difficult for him to handle. While they talked, he told her that he was a priest. She told him that she, too, was Catholic.

The vet asked Father Fred if he wanted to pray.

She sought to comfort him. A total role reversal for him.

Today’s Gospel was John 10:11-18.

“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – John 10:11

Father Fred’s homily reminded me of the day Kit Kat died.

Kit Kat  was, as my daughter Martha called him, my first baby. He was the first cat that I ever had. He was a stray — a feral cat — who sort of adopted us when we lived in The Blue House (our kids identified our homes by the color of the house).

He was getting older and we knew he was frail. One weekend, I think it was October of 2010, we spent the night in Madison because Martha was competing in the collegiate tennis conference tournament up there during her senior year.

When we came home from Madison, we found Kit Kat dead. He apparently was walking from our bedroom into the hallway when he drew his final breath.

The anguish was overwhelming. My sorrow lasted for months. I don’t deal well with pet deaths.

That’s a story for another day.

Those memories came flooding back as Father Fred told his story about being shepherded by the vet, one of our deacons, Joe Casey, Joe’s wife, Mary, and our youth minister, Tracy Rapp.

I thought about how Jesus, the Good Shepherd, comforted and shepherded me.

I thought about the powerful image I had of Jesus, walking along a lush, green riverbank, with my little buddy Kit Kat. I saw a healthy, vibrant little calico cat, walking calmly and peacefully alongside our Good Shepherd.

And that comforted me.

We all have moments when we need comfort, when we need a guiding hand, a warm embrace, just some understanding.

Who do you turn to for comfort?

Is it Jesus?

Can you recall times in your life when Jesus has appeared at your side, perhaps in your thoughts or during prayer time, perhaps in the form of a fellow, caring human being?

Can you recall times when someone else has needed you to reach out to them for comfort. With a good word, maybe just a smile? Or a well-timed hug?

I think of Dad’s illness and the times when I knew Jesus was at my side… was at Dad’s side. The anguish that Mom felt, my sisters, Uncle Stan…

… the comfort I received — that we all received —  from so many people as we walked that journey.

And how we shepherded one another, too.

Father Fred told us today how easy it was to be the good shepherd to a fellow human.

All it takes sometimes is just a nice word. Or a nice smile.

Jesus told St. Faustina that he demands from all of us deeds of mercy, that we are not to shrink or absolve ourselves from it. That we can show mercy to others by deed, word, or prayer.

Do we?

Always?

It’s actually not difficult.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.


Assault Weapons

04/25/2015

(Where in the world is he going with this one?)

I have to laugh at all the do-gooder control freaks who insist that banning assault weapons will make our society safer.

Have any of these people checked the crime statistics in the tiny hamlets and boroughs around our fair land, say for instance, Chicago, and noticed that a ban on guns doesn’t deter naughty, violent people from using them to shoot other people?

Before I get too deep into a political rant, allow me to cleverly tie the blog title to the intro to a faith thought for the day.

You know that I pray the Holy Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy regularly…. I shoot for (get it?) daily, but that doesn’t happen 100% of the time… but then other days like today when I have more time, I try to rip off three or four or five Divine Mercy Chaplets (it’s such an awesome prayer; if you haven’t said it or are unfamiliar with it, try it).

One of my devotional resources is a daily email from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. It’s a daily meditation from the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and Jesus Christ’s revelations to her. I must confess that I don’t read these every day, but I opened Day 279 today and here’s what I read (these are the words of Christ, as St. Faustina quotes them in the diary):

Once, as I was going down the hall to the kitchen, I heard these words in my soul: Say unceasingly the chaplet that I have taught you. Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death. Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy. I desire that the whole world know My infinite mercy. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy (Diary, 687).

My Prayer Response:
Lord Jesus, make me more aware of the power of the mercy chaplet as a prayer for Your infinite mercy for sinners, for the dying, and for the whole world. May You inspire me to pray it unceasingly.

So, there are your marching orders. A quote from Jesus Christ Himself to St. Faustina.

You wanna ignore him?

Okay, so how does that tie in with my intro? Easy, breezy!

Immediately after reading that instruction from Jesus, I tuned into EWTN Radio to listen to the broadcast of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I tuned in about a minute early and was greeted by a commercial. I’ve heard it before. I don’t know who is speaking, but I hear his words loud and clear. The speaker is talking about the importance of frequently praying the Holy Rosary:

“A rosary is an assault weapon with a 50 round clip!”

Your weapons have been chosen.

As we continue to read through the Acts of the Apostles, as we read the stories of these men who were willing to give up their lives to spread the faith, the question is:

Are we willing to give up our lives just like the Apostles and the men and women they hand-selected to spread the faith?

Something else to consider.

We don’t have to die, necessarily, to use our assault weapons, do we?

But just because we don’t have to martyr ourselves, it may not be any easier.

Which is harder?

Think about it.

Today is the Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist.

First reading: First Letter of Peter 5:5b-14

Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.

– 1 Peter 5:8-9

 

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.

 


Are You Ready to Get Smacked Around?

04/24/2015

Why is Christianity true?

Without any doubt?

Not debatable?

Why, that’s simple! The Acts of the Apostles!

Have you ever known a coward? Someone who is all blather and no substance? Someone who enjoys riding another person’s coattails, enjoys the limelight, the spotlight, the spoils, but does none of the dirty work? Just gets in the way of the celebration?

Kind of like a wedding crasher.

Also kind of like the twelve disciples.

They each had their reasons. Many of which, no doubt, were well intentioned.

Today’s Easter weekday reading from the Acts of the Apostles retells the conversion of St. Paul (Acts 9:1-20). What further proof do you need?

More you say? Okay. How about Pentecost? Those timid hangers-on, afraid of their own shadow especially after Jesus is crucified, suddenly emerge from their cave and won’t shut up! They suddenly have no fear of being persecuted, tortured, even killed.

And that’s life here on Earth.

We can “go for the gusto.” (Gosh. Remember the old Schlitz commercial?) Live this earthly life with abandon. Be the person who accumulates the most toys before getting planted. Live for the moment. Cross stuff off the bucket list, no matter how…

adventurous…

Or we can live for eternal life.

A heckuvalot more challenging than it sounds.

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Today is also the feast day of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen, a Franciscan Capuchin priest who was martyred for his unfailing Counter-Reformation preaching.

EWTN’s Mass included alternate readings for the day. The first reading was from St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy. That reading concludes:

Anyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus can expect to be persecuted. – 2 Timothy 3:12

So… that’s simple! Want to get to heaven? Live a godly life. Imitate Christ. But expect to be persecuted.

Did you know that St. Francis of Assisi preached to the Muslims? He attempted to convert them. “Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you,” Francis said.

Are you ready? You may not just get smacked around. It could cost more.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.


Man, Do We Harbor a Lot of Darkness….

04/23/2015

Well… I sure didn’t expect this…

All I wanted to do was learn one thing about linking the “Catholic tradition” of the Eucharist to Thursdays.

And instead, I stumbled upon the following blog, Traditional Roman Catholic Thoughts, and the following blog post, “The Luminous Mysteries and Why You Should Dump Them.”

Today’s Gospel is John 6:44-51. Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life, “the living bread that came down from heaven.”

Since I’ve started praying the Rosary with consistency and vigor, I’ve also adopted the pattern of praying the Glorious Mysteries on Sunday and Wednesday, the Joyful Mysteries on Monday and Saturday, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday and Friday, and the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday.

Pope St. John Paul II introduced the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, or Mysteries of Light, in October 2002. At the time, I was not totally engaged as a Catholic. Yes, I practiced, assisted as a Lector and Extraordinary Minister of Communion (also a heinous act, I learned this morning), and led some faith formation small groups, but we were too busy raising kids and figuring out life. I don’t even remember the Pope officially introducing the Luminous Mysteries. And I don’t even remember him proclaiming a “Year of the Rosary.”

But he did. He messed with the long-standing tradition of the 15 mysteries of the Rosary, also known as the Marian Psalter or Mary’s Psalter (15 mysteries of the Rosary, 10 Hail Marys per mystery, 150 total Hail Marys in the “complete” Rosary compared to 150 Psalms in the Holy Bible). Apparently, this caused enormous angst among Catholics who embrace a rigid traditionalism (and maybe I should capitalize it as Traditionalism).

I had no idea.

Until this morning.

I innocently wanted to make the point about how devotion to the Fifth Luminous Mystery has deepened my faith and devotion to the Eucharist, an idea that I want to develop further at some point in my life (hold me to it, please… somebody remind me).

Instead, I learned why I should never have been praying that mystery or any of the other Luminous Mysteries.

At least according to some.

And the blog post referenced above was particularly direct in telling me why (1) I should dump the Luminous Mysteries because the Pope really didn’t have the authority to add them, (2) the Pope was really inferring that the Rosary as Mary originally gave it to us wasn’t any good any more, (3) adding Mysteries that meditate on Jesus’ life make nonsense of the “rhythm of the prayers,” (4) Heaven certainly did not approve of 20 Mysteries that the conclusion found in a book out there titled “EWTN: A Network Gone Wrong” (had I only known…), (5) the Pope was arrogant for seeking to change Mary’s devotion, (6) all popes since 1958 (who are really not “popes” at all) were and are all puppets of Freemasonry AND John Paul II was “a manifest heretic,” (7) oh! And that John Paul II was grand standing the Mother of God by introducing the Luminous Mysteries, and (8) Pope John Paul II really should have just brought back the Latin Mass if he was really interested in giving ‘people of the 80s and 90s true appreciation of the faith.’

O———kay.

I couldn’t let it go. I had to respond when the author of the blog (Jeff) paraphrased the scripture passage, asking a commenter about giving (your child) a stone when they ask for a piece of bread. My comment — on the blog site — is still awaiting moderation. Since I don’t know if it will be published or discarded, I reproduce it here.

I am not a Catholic scholar. I am far from sainthood. I can’t go a few minutes without sinning. I certainly don’t know the history and tradition of the Rosary like many of you who have commented.

But I gotta tell ya… this “debate” in the comments troubles me greatly. Saint John Paul is a modernist? There’s some tie to Freemasonry? We don’t have a real Pope?

Jeff, I wanted to respond directly to your reply to Adelina (September 1, 2014). You are right to point out that Christ is unchanging. I think I have sufficient faith and understanding to say that with absolute certainty! WE (my caps) are the changelings. WE are the flawed, the sinful, the imperfect. God only made one of us perfect. So… we as Church, we as Catholics must interact — flawed entities that we are — with the rest of the 6 billion or so flawed souls out there.

And we do our best.

Jeff, you asked:

“If someone is hungry and asks you for food, do you give them bread, or do you give them a stone?”

I happened upon the (apparently heretical) EWTN about five years ago. I knew EWTN was on the air years before that day. I just never paid any attention.

But something caught my attention that day and renewed my sense of Catholic purpose.

Since then, I have been devoted to study of Scripture, specifically Liturgy, and to praying the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy daily.

Never once have I ever — EVER!! — considered that viewing or listening to EWTN or praying the Luminous Mysteries of the Holy Rosary have done anything less than nourish my faith and devotion. More specifically, my faith in God and Jesus Christ and my devotion to my Lord and Savior, to His Blessed Virgin Mother, and to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

I would consider that “bread.”

I have to admit that your referencing that particular scripture made my head spin.

The Luminous Mysteries a “stone?”

How in the name of God, in the name of Christ, in the name of Mary, in the entire tradition of the Holy Catholic Church does this detract from devotion to Almighty God?

I’ve said more than I intended already.

Just one more thing. If any of us think that we have the one set of answers, that WE can interpret the unchanging Christ and the EXACT MESSAGE that He gave us, we’re replacing Him as God. We are setting ourselves up as our own gods. (Small ‘g’ for all the traditionalists.)

I welcome discussion.

And I do welcome discussion on any of this. Here or on the original blog. All of this simultaneously fascinates and depresses the hell out of me.

(Oops… can I say “hell” and still consider myself a ‘good Catholic?’)

How’s THAT for a daily meditation?

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.


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