Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, December 8, 2016

12/08/2016

A reading from the book of Genesis 3:9-15, 20

9 And the Lord God called Adam and said to him: “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard your voice in Paradise, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and so I hid myself.” 11 He said to him, “Then who told you that you were naked, if you have not eaten of the tree from which I instructed you that you should not eat?” 12 And Adam said, “The woman, whom you gave to me as a companion, gave to me from the tree, and I ate.” 13 And the Lord God said to the woman, “Why have you done this?” And she responded, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 And the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed among all living things, even the wild beasts of the earth. Upon your breast shall you travel, and the ground shall you eat, all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmities between you and the woman, between your offspring and her offspring. She will crush your head, and you will lie in wait for her heel.”

20 And Adam called the name of his wife, ‘Eve,’ because she was the mother of all the living.

The word of the Lord.


Responsorial Psalm 98(97):1, 2-3b, 3c-4

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has performed wonders.

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has performed wonders. His right hand has accomplished salvation for him, with his holy arm.

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has performed wonders.

2 The Lord has made known his salvation. He has revealed his justice in the sight of the nations. 3 He has remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel.

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has performed wonders.

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. 4 Sing joyfully to God, all the earth. Sing and exult, and sing psalms.

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has performed wonders.


A reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12

(Brothers and sisters:)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, in Christ, 4 just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, so that we would be holy and immaculate in his sight, in charity. 5 He has predestined us to adoption as sons, through Jesus Christ, in himself, according to the purpose of his will, 6 for the praise of the glory of his grace, with which he has gifted us in his beloved Son.

11 In him, we too are called to our portion, having been predestined in accord with the plan of the One who accomplishes all things by the counsel of his will. 12 So may we be, to the praise of his glory, we who have hoped beforehand in Christ.

The word of the Lord.


A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke 1:26-38

26 (The) Angel Gabriel was sent by God, to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the name of the virgin was Mary.

28 And upon entering, the Angel said to her: “Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.”

29 And when she had heard this, she was disturbed by his words, and she considered what kind of greeting this might be.

30 And the Angel said to her: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace with God.

31 Behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and you shall bear a son, and you shall call his name: JESUS.

32 He will be great, and he will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. And he will reign in the house of Jacob for eternity.

33 And his kingdom shall have no end.”

34 Then Mary said to the Angel, “How shall this be done, since I do not know man?”

35 And in response, the Angel said to her: “The Holy Spirit will pass over you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. And because of this also, the Holy One who will be born of you shall be called the Son of God.

36 And behold, your cousin Elizabeth has herself also conceived a son, in her old age. And this is the sixth month for her who is called barren.

37 For no word will be impossible with God.”

38 Then Mary said: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.” And the Angel departed from her.

The Gospel of the Lord.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read the daily Mass readings. The readings are taken and adapted from the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Holy Bible.

I appreciate your help and encouragement. Please let me know how I can help you. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time.


Litter Box Theology, Advent Style

12/20/2015

Do you listen closely enough?

I do. But way too infrequently.

Thankfully, I was listening today. While tending to cat box duty.

EWTN Radio broadcasts The Truth & Life Dramatized Audio Bible New Testament on Sundays after Daily Mass. Today, the broadcast coincided with time for cleaning the litter boxes.

I heard the end of St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians and the beginning of St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, through Chapter 3.

The end of Chapter 3 is Paul’s instructions for wives, husbands, children, and fathers. You know… the passage that always causes so much controversy because Paul tells wives to be subject to their husbands.

But that’s not what struck me today.

And not how I heard God talking to me.

Immediately following his instructions for families, Paul continues.

Slaves, obey your human masters in everything, not only when being watched, as currying favor, but in simplicity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:22-24

Here’s what slammed me up against the proverbial wall, what slapped me in my proverbial face:

Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord…

 

What was I doing? Scooping cat poop. Washing the floor and sloshing pee from under one of the boxes because Little Kitten has difficulty hitting the mark these days, poor thing.

It’s not her fault. She’s a cat.

But… all of that… irrelevant.

… do from the heart, as for the Lord…

So I did.

He and I carried on a little more conversation, about my place in life, my place in time, what I was doing at this very moment, what I was doing with my life.

It all happened in a flash.

But it was so real.

Two things:

  1. Do you take time to listen for the Lord to speak to you, no matter what you are doing, no matter what your circumstances?
  2. Do you do whatever you do, from the heart?

I’m not perfect. I’m no holy roller.

That’s why I talk (i.e., whine) to Him so often.

And why I try to listen.

And not only listen.

Hear.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention is to post regularly and to comment on the Daily Liturgy. I’ve fallen short of that lofty goal. However, I have begun posting video reflections (and other stuff) on YouTube. Click here to take a gander: https://www.youtube.com/user/davekwiecinski

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. And for still not posting daily.

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A Love Story Starring Doug and Amy Kwiecinski

05/23/2015

Doug and Amy asked me to read at their wedding. Today’s the day. May 23, 2015, 5:00 pm, Central Daylight Time.

They also asked me to say a few words after the reading. This is what I will say to them in just a few minutes.

Doug and Amy engaged 1459337_10153535299400080_1130631129_n

When you asked me to read and gave me a selection of readings to choose from, and then asked if I would say few syllables after the reading, I read over each one, I jotted a few notes, and when I read this one, the letter to the Corinthians, I just started writing — and writing and writing and writing! — I just knew this was the right reading for today. For you. For both of you.

Doug and Amy 941299_10153453624890080_2006328927_n

Love is not easy. Love ain’t just flowers and chocolate and jewelry and other nice “things.”

Those are nice. They’re not bad. They help express love. They’re not love.

Love is not about me.

It’s not about you…

Take a look at the person next to you. At the people around you. It’s about them. Love is about them.

Doug, Amy… take a look at the person next to you. It’s about them.

Doug and Amy in the car 1425721_10153453625515080_1701486744_n

Love never fails.  –  First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 13:8 (beginning)

We fail. It’s easy to fail! And it’s easier to not admit to failure.

Pompous. Inflated. Rude. Quick-tempered. Brood over injury.

Yikes. [shudder]

Guilty!

Sorry, honey. Thanks for loving me.

Do not ever stop praying.

Do not ever stop learning.

Do not ever think you have it all figured out.

Love is work.

But love is the reason for all of this.

Love is the reason for everything.

Love is the reason for new life. Love is the reason for all life.

Love sustains us in death. And when we mourn the death of a loved one.

Love is the reason for everything in between.

Love is hard.

When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child…  –  First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 13:11a

Don’t think that just because you’re an adult… and you think you reason as an adult, it gets any easier.

You will disagree.

You might argue.

You will be tested.

And… you’re human! So sometimes you will fail!

Pick yourselves up. Dust yourselves off. Admit your mistakes. Ask God for help. Pray to Him for forgiveness.

Never forget His Divine Mercy. Never hesitate to ask for His Divine Mercy!

Love never fails.

Father Leo Clifford was a Franciscan Friar. He passed away in 2012. In the early 2000s, he recorded five seasons of Reflections, brief… 6, 7, 8 minute thoughts… homilies. He had a melodious Irish accent and an almost lyrical manner of speaking. He touches your heart. Grabs your emotions. In one of his Reflections, Philosophy of Life, Father Clifford says:

By definition, you cannot keep love. Love must be given away. You cannot buy love. You cannot barter it. You cannot sell it. You cannot store it. You can only give it away.

A song is not a song until it is sung. A bell is not a bell until it is rung. And love is not love until it is given away…

Isn’t that beautiful?

Sounded so poetic, I wondered if those were his words or a quote. So I did a little research.

My best guess is he borrowed it. Paraphrased the words of Oscar Hammerstein II.

Hammerstein wrote these words for the Broadway musical, The Sound of Music. Before the Reprise of Sixteen Going on Seventeen, Maria says (sings) the following to Liesl:

A bell is no bell till you ring it
A song is no song till you sing it
And love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay
Love isn’t love till you give it away…

God is Love. God gave us Love so that we can give it away.

Look around. See all this? It’s His. And it’s ours because He loves us!

Guess what?

We give it all back to God. We leave nothing behind. We give everything back to God.

Except Love.

Welcome to our family, Amy. We’re honored to have you.

Never stop honoring and loving your wife, Doug. Even through difficult times.

Congratulations, Doug and Amy. Lots of love to both of you.

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Here’s the reading:

A reading from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians

1 Cor 12:31-13:13

Brothers and sisters: Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The Word of the Lord.


The Fierceness of Love

05/19/2015

Yet I consider life of no importance to me

  –  the beginning of verse 24, chapter 20, Acts of the Apostles

Why had life become so unimportant to St. Paul? Warned repeatedly by the Holy Spirit about imprisonment and hardships, Paul still dutifully sails back to Jerusalem to face those who wish to kill him.

On the road to Damascus, his life changed forever. He pursued the disciples who were spreading the news and message of Jesus of Nazareth, to persecute them, to imprison them, even to see them put to death.

Little did he know that he was the one being pursued.

Jesus caught up with Paul on the road to Damascus. Jesus struck him down, blinded and disabled him, and with a love as fierce as the fury of Paul’s persecution, persuaded Paul that Jesus was the Way.

And Paul was transformed. He proclaimed the Word and spread God’s Love with the same fierceness.

It was not a fierce fury, but a fierce Love. A boldness that transcended human courage.

And Paul continued to receive visions and messages from Jesus via the Holy Spirit, assuring him of safe passage and cautioning him that hardships awaited.

How receptive are you to the murmurs of the Holy Spirit in your life? Do you hear them? Are you listening?

How willing are you to Love fiercely?

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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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God, Do You Really Understand?

05/05/2015

One of our friends — a rabid Blackhawks fan — had open heart surgery several weeks ago and started cardiac rehab.

Boom!

Out of the blue, he got seriously ill last week. It has been touch and go.

His girlfriend, Laura, has been keeping that agonizing vigil at his hospital bedside.

After Bill was hospitalized, Laura’s mom broke her hip. Her mom has been in ICU in a different hospital.

Laura had a painful knee injury not too long ago and has been convalescing.

Now she is the caregiver.

And being pulled in different directions.

Life has a way of getting in the way of our peace and happiness.

Just ask St. Paul and St. Barnabas and the other disciples who were sharing the Good News in Lystra.

… some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds.  They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. – Acts 14:19

That was the thanks Paul got for sharing the Good News.

Jesus tells the disciples in today’s Gospel

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” – John 14:27

Peace? God, how can we be at peace with all of the turmoil in our lives?

We can’t do it alone. We need our friends, definitely. But even they are not enough. In the dark emptiness of our most troubled thoughts, where our friends can’t go, we need more.

Life is not lived without suffering.

God sent an angel to ask an ordinary young lady to do an extraordinary thing.

He asked Mary to bear the burden of pregnancy, to give birth to His Son. To allow her offspring to be tortured, reviled, and killed. To bear our suffering and bring us peace.

There’s only one way out of this life. And it usually involves some sort of pain.

God knew that. And Jesus was His answer. Without the promise of eternal life, this life can seem like a cruel joke.

St. Faustina says in her diary (1570)

“… all mankind calls out from the abyss of its misery…

… do not reject the prayer of this earth’s exiles! O Lord, (you) are acquainted with our misery through and through…”

Tuesdays and Fridays are traditionally the days we rosary-praying types reflect on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, when we recall Christ’s passion and death, from the Garden of Gethsemane to His crucifixion on Calvary.

To help me stay focused on saying the rosary as I go about my morning routine, I regularly listen to rosaries led by Father Patrick Peyton, who came to be known as “The Rosary Priest.” There is a wonderful YouTube version of the Sorrowful Mysteries in which Father Peyton chose the theme of Loneliness.

Jesus was very familiar with the temptations, hard choices, sufferings, and sorrows of human life. He knew abandonment in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Apostles couldn’t stay awake to pray with Jesus and when the soldiers came for Him, they fled. Jesus saw how the women along the long route to Calvary wept for him and in His weakness, He comforted them. And on Calvary, Jesus felt abandoned by His Father, yet he continued to pray.

Our road may not be as physically painful as the road to Calvary. Or it might. But there is a journey we all have to take to get to Heaven. Some of us will suffer for a long time. Some of us will suffer through the pain and suffering of a loved one, maybe more than one at the same time.

Some of us will suffer loss long before our life’s journey has ended. Loss hurts. Loss of a parent or a child. The pain of divorce or the end of a relationship. Financial hardship. Humiliation. Legal troubles. Unemployment. Feelings of inadequacy.

The list is long. Life isn’t perfect.

When we suffer, we ask friends and family to pray. Sometimes they’re available to physically comfort us. Or to sit and talk with us.

If they’re not, rely on prayer. Rely on Jesus. And yes, rely on Mary. Just as you would ask a friend to pray for you, why wouldn’t you ask the mother of Jesus to pray for you, to intercede on your behalf to her Son?

Mary has no divine power. But she has a special relationship with the Divine, doesn’t she?

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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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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.


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