Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blog # 18 The road of life

A friend recently sent me something indicating several things people had said they learned along the road of life. Here are some of them: "I learned that I like my teacher better because she cries when we sing Silent Night".(Age 6). "I learned that just when I get my room the way I like it Mom makes me clean it up again."(Age 12) "I learned that when you want to cheer yourself up you should try cheering someone else up".(Age14). " I learned that sometimes silent company is more healing than words of advice." (Age24). "I learned that if someone says someting unkind about me I must live so that no one will believe it." (Age30). "I leaned that there are people who love you deeply but just do not know how to show it." (Age42). "I learned that singing Amazing Grace can lift my spirits for hours." (Age 49). "I learned you can tell a lot about a man by the way he handles three thing: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Chrismas tree lights." (Age51). "I learned that keeping a vegetable garden is worth a medicine cabinet full of pills."(Age52). "I learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance." (Age62). "I learned that you should not go through life with a catcher's mit on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back."(Age 64). "I learned that whenever I decide something with kindness I usually make the right decision." (Age 66). "I learned that everyone can use a prayer." (Age72). "I learned that even when I have pains I do not need to be one." (Age82). "I learned that I still have a lot to learn." (Age 92). "I learned that happiness tends to be contagious, and that makes me happy." (Ageless.) Love, Fr. Charlie.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Blog 17 Love in the Bible

Blog 17 Love in the Bible I thought it might be helpful this week to assemble some of the various texts in the Bible which speak in some way of love. They are not given in any particular order. On different occasions I have found it a grace to spend a bit of time just reading them slowly and reflectively, stopping when it occurs to me and letting the texts speak for themselves. They often say things I never heard them say before. Sometimes in the time I have available I only read one or two of them. Sometimes in the same amount of time I read several before I pause. Since I know GOD IS LOVE, they all speak to me of God. ** ** ** 1 Jn 4: 18 - 21 Love has no room for fear, rather, perfect love casts out all fear. And since fear has to do with punishment, love is not yet perfect in one who is afraid. We on our part love God because he loved us. If anyone says, “My love is fixed on God”, and hates his brother, he is a liar… The commandment we have from him is this: whoever loves God must also love his brother. Gen. 29:20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, yet they seemed to him but a few days, because of the greatness of his love. Proverbs 27:5 Better an open rebuke than a love that remains hidden. Luke 6:27 Love your enemies. Luke 6:32 Sinners also love those who love them. Jn 14:31 …I love the Father. Jn 15:13 …greater love than this no one has… Jn 15:9 …abide in my love… Rom 8:35ff What shall separate us from the love of God? 1 Cor 2:9 Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Jn 3:18 Let us love in deed and in truth, and not merely talk about it. Jude 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God. Rev 3:19 Such as I love, I rebuke and chastise. Mat 19:19 Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Mark 12:31; Gal 5:14; James 2:8. James 1:12 …he will receive the crown of life the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Jn 13:34f I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you shall love one another. This is how all will know you are my disciples, your love for one another.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blog #16 Remember the plan - Taste the joy

Remember the plan - Taste the joy If you are like the rest of us, there are most likely many things you once knew that you have forgotten. Some times it is good to forget, and some times it is bad. A business appointment forgotten can be expensive. To forget to turn back the clock when we go off daylight saving time in the Fall can cost a 'free' hour of sleep. To forget your wife's birthday makes it harder for her to love you. and to forget the Good News of Jesus makes it harder for God to love us and for us to love God. If you have read very much of modern literature you will find a good bit of sadness and despair, little real meaning to life , rare hope for life after death, and little reason for geniune happines and joy. Sex, money, entertainment, and popularity all prove traitors in the end, unable in themselves to give us the complete happiness and meaning we all desire. But the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus, tells us where we came from, why we exist, and what is the outcome and meaning of human life. A plan is given to us to follow that produces joy peace and happiness for all. The danger is that we will forget the Good News or only remember it from time to time and apply it to a portion of our lives rather than always in all that we do. Then we pay the price of our forgetfulness. We might as well be as the unbelievers, without hope, if we forget that we are different. If we forget that God loves us as a Father, then the joy of being His children will not be ours. If we do not remember that Christ died for us, then we will not know the joy of being saved in His love. If we do not remember the call we have from God to love all people, then we will hardly treat them as brothers and sisters. It isn't that we plan to forget. It just happens that way if we are not careful. In other words most of us are not consciously evil or vicious when we do not live the Gospel message more effectively, no more than you are evil in not setting your clock back when daylight saving time goes out. But it is a mistake, and we pay the price of an hour's sleep, or in the case of the Gospel a life that is less holy, starving people in a world of plenty, less awareness of God, less prayer, and a Church that is divided, contrary to the prayer of Jesus, in an age of almost instant world- wide communication. May each of us remember the Good News of God's plan for us, and taste the joy that comes from remembering His love for all !

Monday, June 21, 2010

Blog #15 Emmanuel, Eternal LOVE in time

Blog # 15 Emmanuel, Eternal LOVE in time When I was growing up as a boy Babe Ruth was identified as the King of Swat. He was recognized as the greatest batter in baseball at that time. Whatever it took to bat the way He did he had it. We can think of what this entailed, availability of a ball field, a pitcher, a bat, a full swing, years of practice, coaching and encouragement, challenging and doing better than the competition. After Babe Ruth’s conception, even before he was born , his DNA, configuration of genes and other factors were such that it would be possible for him to emerge as the King of Swat. In a sense, even before he was born Babe Ruth was already and not yet a King. I am fascinated and instructed by how many and well these and other considerations are similar to those we can identify and appreciate in the identity and experience of Jesus as the King of Love. Even before He was born , ‘from all eternity’ as we have come to say it , “In the beginning” as the first words of the Bible have it, and as St. John expresses it by harking back to those first words of Genesis, “ In the beginning was the Word, the Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God.” God is Love, perfect, eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful. The Father is Love. The Word is Love. The Holy Spirit is Love. The PERSON of Jesus , Emmanuel, God-Among-Us, is the Person of the Word born on earth as one of us in all things but sin. In God’s loving eternal plan a ’field’ was provided for the ETERNAL WORD to play out in a limited way on earth the perfect unlimited love of the Father. A moment in history, an identified location, a specified family line, a certain talent bank, genetic structure, and ‘flesh’ would all go to make up the ’batting field’ where this eternal love would be lived. Jesus (Savior) would be the name by which this eternal love on earth would be known, As the development of a King of Swat takes time, so it is with the development of a King of Love. As Babe Ruth even had to learn to stand and then to walk, so the Eternal Word of God was sent as part of His mission to learn all the rest of us have had to learn in our quest for happiness and our destiny in God’s love. But in a special way Babe Ruth had to learn the ins and outs of batting and the game of baseball. So Jesus had to learn the ins and outs of the human experience of perfect divine love on earth. That would mean learning how to forgive, be patient, trusting, suffer, pray, listen, work, rejoice, and all else that goes into perfect love. In Babe Ruth’s batting career in all the games in which he played one game was his best game., with baseball being the game he played best. So with Jesus there was an experience of the best of what He did best , love. That was the experience of the day and the hour He died on the Cross. “There is no greater love than this…” Budding baseball players looked to Babe Ruth for inspiration and instruction in the game of baseball and the skill of batting as he did. He drew the interest of those who wanted to bat well. And no doubt many of us learned from imitating Him. Jesus promised to draw to Himself all who “lift Him up” , discovering and experiencing the meaning and power of His death which is love. But we are not only called to imitate that love, but to share it, He in us, we in Him, playing out His love throughout the course of our lives ( Gal 2: 19 - 20) * We do not know and love Jesus merely as our teacher or our coach, but as our life! Thank You, Jesus ! * Gal. 2: 19 - 20 I have been crucified with Christ and the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me. I still live my human life, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Rom 6: 3 - 8. Are you not aware that we who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Through baptism into his death we were buried with him, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life…If we have died with Christ, we believe that we are also to live with him Note : live in the present tense. John 10 : 27,28. My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life. Note: hear, know, follow, give, all in the present tense. John 10 : 10. I came that they ( my sheep) may have life. John 1 : 11 - 13 To his own he came, yet his own did not accept him. Any who did accept him he empowered to become children of God. These are they who believe in his name___ who were begotten not by blood, nor by carnal desire, nor by man’s willing it, but by God. John 3: 3. I solemnly assure you, no one can see the reign of God unless he is begotten from above. John 5: 24. I solemnly assure you, the man who hears my word and has faith in him who sent me possesses eternal life. John 14 : 5. I am the life.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Blog #13 FATHER!

FATHER! …I love the Father…” (Jn 14:31). The response of Jesus to the Father was love. Jesus was like us in all but sin. Jesus, though divine, and from all eternity united with the Father in divine love, like us was called to discover and respond as well to the Father’s Presence here on earth in the physical world, in people, and in the human experience of prayer. It was this response to which Jesus was referring when on the night before he died in obedience to the Father’s plan, He said his obedience was evidence to all that He loved the Father. His invitation for all was to join Him in that love. Not all would understand. Not all would be willing. So in the course of Jesus’ life as given in the Gospels, we find Him so perfectly obedient to the Father’s will that all who heard Him speak and saw Him act should have known His love for the Father was the supreme value in His life. This was true because He knew, as God, and believed, as one of us, there is but One God. There is no other. His response to the Father, and ours, could only be total love. Nothing and no-one could take the Father’s place as Creator of all. No-one assume His authority, or His Name. Do not call anyone on earth your Father. “Only one is your Father, the one in heaven.” (Mt 23:9). What, the, of the practice in the Catholic Church of referring to a priest as Father? Is this idolatry, arrogance, disobedience, stupidity, or what? It is certainly a long and well established tradition. Particularly here in the southern part of the United States it has been and continues to be a problem of such major proportions as to preclude on the part of many any serious possibility of investigating and discovering the richness of our Catholic faith, history, and tradition. It should be quite evident the theme of our Gospel reading today is not the phrase about using the word Father for anyone other than God. Rather Jesus is speaking against the false pride, arrogance and hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees to whom He addressed His words. However, since the practice of referring to a priest as Father is such an obstacle for many believing Christians around us, it might be well for us to take this occasion to address the problem. With little effort I think we can find basic agreement. Our apparent disagreement would seem to stem from lack of information rather than actual differences in theology or disobedience to the word of God in the Bible. All that we would ask of anyone who would want to enter into discussion with us with regard to any justification of the practice on our part is an open mind, a willingness to accept our word as sincere, and a prayer for the light of truth. First of all it should be very clear we as Catholics profess a faith in One God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is no other God. Statues are not God. Mary, the Mother of Jesus is not God. Angles and Saints are not God. The Pope, priests, nuns rituals are not God. Not being God they neither deserve nor are offered the praise, thanks, adoration, and worship we offer to God alone. We do not accept or believe in any competitor for God’s gory. We don’t even come close to being tempted away from our conviction or practice here. The official text of the Mass illustrates and gives clear evidence of our consciousness of the Father’s place in our life and our love and our devotedness to Him. Here are some samples from that text. “Father, it is our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks…” “Father, it is right we should give you thanks and glory; you are the One God, living and true.” “We come to you, Father, with praise and thanksgiving, through Jesus Christ your Son.” “Father, you are holy indeed, and all Creation rightly gives you praise.” “Our Father…hallowed be Thy Name…Thy will be done…” And the final words of the most solemn part of the Mass: “Through Him (Jesus), with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, All glory and honor is yours, Almighty Father, for ever and ever. Amen!” We are in direct personal relationship with the Father through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. We recognize in the Father a worthiness of our entire love. This Jesus has taught us. In His Name we believe, and respond to Our Father in awe. Yet we do have to take Matthew 23:9 into account. The King James version has it this way: “And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father which is in heaven.” On face value, those words are certainly clear. Is there even room, in the light of them, for the question as to whether Catholics disobey the Bible in continuing our practice of referring to a priest as “Father”? We would hardly be fair to ourselves and honest in our pursuit of the truth in the matter if we did not take note of the fact the text we are considering is immediately followed by the additional injunction of Jesus not to call anyone teacher. This seems to be commonly done, even by those who object to our practice, without a qualm or the batting of an eye. What is the difference: It seems to lie merely in the objection to our practice rather than in a concern for carrying out the entire mandate of the Bible. Further, if what we do is wrong, the Bible itself is guilty of the same, and this certainly cannot be true. In the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) there are more than seven hundred references to the word father. Only ten of these are in reference to Yahweh (God). In the New Testament, there are more than three hundred and fifty references to the word father. Of these only two hundred and twenty -nine are in relation to God. The rest refer to men. Samples: Rom 4:18; 8:10; Acts 7:2; 2:29, 4:25; James 2:21. In the early ages of the Church, before and during the time the New Testament was being composed, there was no problem. Nor was there a problem as the Church moved through the centuries until on the American scene fundamentalist preachers developed it into a major issue. It is not a problem among Scripture scholars, nor is it a problem in other parts of the world where the American influence has not prevailed. Certainly the Catholic Church knows the words of the Gospel with regard to Jesus’ statement. We know, however, as well, the meaning of the statement. Taken out of context, we would no more have taken up the custom of calling the priest Father, let alone tolerate it for centuries, than we would have taken up or tolerated a custom of stealing, telling lies, or murder. The true meaning of and value of our custom begins to show in the light of 1 Cor 4: 14-17. “I am writing to you in this way not to shame you but to admonish you as My beloved children.” Grated you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you have only one father. It was I who begot you in Christ Jesus through my preaching of the Gospel…This is why I sent you Timothy, My beloved and faithful Son in the Lord.” For St. Paul, who explicitly in the Bible refers to himself as a father of believers, the use of the term father in reference to himself was a blessing rather than a wedge between himself and God. This is because for him and the first Christians it was a definite reminder and proclamation of the fact a Christian believer through faith and Baptism receives from God through Jesus a second birth, into a new life, becoming children of God, heirs with Christ of eternal life. Our use of the term for the ordinary minister of Baptism is the same. Lack of knowledge, both of the meaning of Scripture in this instance, and of the meaning of our tradition and of the reasons we retain the tradition are at the root of any problem a sincere Bible reading person might have with it. It would be apparently so easy to solve the problem by doing away with the custom. But that would seem to be similar to the “problem” some of the people at the foot of the Cross brought to Jesus when they did not realize or understand the meaning of His suffering and said “Come down from the Cross and we will believe!” He stayed. I remember an old priest years ago who, when confronted with our problem would say “OK call me “Frank’, “Fred”, “Father”, “Mister”, “Brother”, whatever you think is best, but please don’t call me before six o’clock in the morning!.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blog # 12 The Heart Pump

The Heart Pump Oxygenated blood enters the left atrium from the lungs. The left ventricle pushes the blood into the tissues. The deoxygenated blood then returns , via the veins, into the right atrium. The right ventricle sends it back to the lung where the process begins again. In a drop of blood the size of a pinhead there are about 5,000,000 red corpuscles and 10,000 white. Despite their microscopic size they are so numerous that if they could be spread out on a level plane, the area of all the corpuscles in our body would be twice the size of a baseball diamond. Tiny tubes called capillaries, connecting the arteries with the veins, not much thicker than this page and as long as this coma "," , are so numerous that placed end to end in a line they would reach across the Atlantic ocean. Such is the efficiency of our heart and circulatory system that every cell in our body receives fresh blood twice every minute - over 2,500 times a day. That means our heart pumps about 16 tons of blood daily. Our heart does as much work daily as our legs would do carrying us eight and a half miles on a level road. If it were not for the amazing efficiency of our blood circulation we would need 200,000 quarts of blood to keep us alive and well instead of six or seven. The heart is an 'involuntary' muscle. It pumps 'on its own', day and night, every day and every night of our lives. We tend to think of it only when it is in trouble. This is just one more way of missing out on an opportunity of being aware of and receiving an amazing gift from God, the heart of us all. What a design! What a gift ! ! What a God ! ! !

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Blog #11 The Somewhere Lady

Here is an imaginative poem that may stir your heart, written as it were, by a child that was born rather than aborted. The Somewhere Lady You must have had some problems--- I hope they’re over now--- But my Mom said you gave me LIFE And that’s tremendous---WOW ! I have a little dimple That I get teased about It’s there when I am happy And I’m happy quite a lot--- My Mom said it’s a beauty mark A gift that came from you--- It makes my Mom smile and laugh And I hope you’re happy too. I have the greatest Mom and Dad--- They love me I can tell--- They gave me my brother Jimmy And a sister, Mary Belle And a little dog that I can feed Who follows me around And a sunny patch of garden Where I plant seeds in the ground. I love them all so very much--- But I have to tell you too--- Dear Somewhere Lady, every night Before I go to sleep Who loved me such a heap! I thank you for my dimples And I thank you for my smile And even for my freckles And I promise you that I’ll Ask God and all the angels To take special care Of that extra super Lady Who lives out there somewhere. ICHTHUS is a Greek word for FISH. The early Christians identified themselves By the sign of a fish because the five Greek letters in the word stood for them as the first letters in the words of the phrase : “JESUS, SAVIOR, SON OF THE LIVING GOD”. Those words constitute a very good basic summary of our Catholic faith. The early Christians believed, as we do today, that in Baptism we are joined to Christ as one body; we are ’reborn’ in Him, we take on our name, a new identity, that of Jesus Himself, without losing our own personal unique human identity. May we understand this identity of ours in Jesus and live it out day by day as in Him we sanctify by our love and goodness goodness the small portion of creation we have under our control, beginning with our minds and hearts !

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Blog #10 Trinity 2

Blog # 11 Trinity 2 Here is a continuation of the many fascinating ways we can be reminded of the Blessed Trinity in the course of an ordinary day. This single chemical formula H2O ( One true Triune God ) can be found in water in the form of liquid solid (ice) and steam 1-2-3. All time is located in the past present future 1-2-3. Up down across 1-2-3; more less equal 1-2-3; man woman child 1-2-3. animal mineral vegetable 1-2-3; sometimes always never 1-2-3; top middle bottom 1-2-3; length breadth depth 1-2-3; yes maybe no 1-2-3; left right center `1-2-3; morning noon night 1-2-3; before during after 1-2-3; good better best 1-2-3; at the baseball game three strikes and you are out 1-2-3; in a nine inning game 3x3 , 1-2-3,1-2-3. Money is available in the form of cash check and coin 1-2-3; a credit card fulfills its purpose and fits the pattern this way: the money it represents must be in the bank, we must activate the card before it can be used, and its fulfillment comes when we spend the money 1-2-3; in music sung in harmony three notes make one sound 1-2-3 in 1. And of course the shamrock of St. Patrick 1-2-3. Years ago we three Glenmary Missioners used to engage in outdoor preaching and tent meetings in various places in our seven-County parish based in Statesboro. Almost without being conscious of it as a newly ordained priest I had already formed the habit of making the sign of the Cross before beginning my comments on our evening Bible readings. One evening in the question and answer period of the service a man raised his hand and asked why I went like this as he made the motions of the sign of the Cross. The question sort of took me off guard because I knew I had been doing it by habit for so long that I really did not have a reason for it. It was just the thing you do as you begin to speak in the pulpit or dip your finger in holy water as you come into church. I don't remember exactly what I said that evening long ago but it was something to the effect that the sign of the Cross was an expression of our Catholic loving response to the death of Jesus on the Cross and a reminder of the Blessed Trinity in the words we used when making the sign. After this experience I was more appreciative of the sign of the Cross as a distinctive characteristic of our Catholic identity. It occurred to me later to see in the sign itself another reminder of the Blessed Trinity but also a reminder of the answer to one of the most important questions we can ask of ourselves : "Why did God make me?". The sign is made by placing our right hand against our head, "to know Him", our heart "to love Him", and our shoulders, " to do His will" 1-2-3. May the blessing of Almighty God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit descend upon you and remain forever. Amen !

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Blog #9 Trinity

Trinity Today is Tuesday . On Sunday of this week we celebrated the liturgical Feast of the Holy Trinity, the Feast of GOD as revealed in the New Testament of the Bible as FATHER, WORD, and HOLY SPIRIT. Each year as we celebrate “Trinity Sunday” I find myself reluctant to let the day go. Twenty-four hours never seems enough to express and celebrate a Feast that focuses solely upon our explicit awareness of and response to the ONE TRUE GOD , Creator of all that exists, Redeemer of all mankind, and Sanctifier of all that will be made holy through being united personally in God’s eternal love. So join me now if you wish in expanding our celebration further into the week. Before the time of Abraham people feared loved and worshiped more than one god. There were gods of war of peace of love of good and bad weather of sickness and of health of birth and of death. Abraham received the revelation that all these many gods were temporary expressions of a single God, the GOD of gods, the only GOD. Followers of Abraham were identified as a community by their faith and worship of Yahweh. Than about two thousand years ago Jesus appears, born of Mary, an infant, a boy, a man, a carpenter, a rabbi, walking, talking, laughing, weeping, loved, rejected, dying on the cross. Jesus was obviously one of us. Yet he claimed to be more than we, infinitely more, equal to God, ONE WITH THE FATHER as he put it. He did and said things that only God should say and do. He worked miracles. He forgave sins. He made promises about life beyond the grave . He invited people to have faith and trust in him as they had faith and trust in God the Creator of all, to believe in the incarnation of the ONE TRUE GOD in Him. He rose from the dead and appeared again in various and mysterious ways for a brief time and then He went away. But before He left He promised not to leave us alone, without Him, “orphans” as He put it. He promised to send another divine advocate whom He called the Holy Spirit Who would remind us of all that He said and did and would bring the help we need to believe in Him as God’s BELOVED SON and THE Savior of the World. More than once He commanded His disciples to tell His story and to share their faith with all people throughout the world. “Remember I am with you always even to the end of the age.” I still remember the large pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of Our Blessed Mother that hung in my parents’ bedroom, the crucifixes that hung in the kitchen and in each of our family bedrooms and the small holy water font that was hung by the front door of our house. Then I remember how as a young priest I was impressed by the pictures in a doctor’s or a lawyer’s office that proclaimed and reminded them of their special love for wife and family. Somewhere along the line I developed a similar experience with regard to my awareness and appreciation of my faith in the Blessed Trinity. Convinced by faith of the presence of God always and everywhere, I began to seek and discover simple natural reminders and to me evidence of this mysterious total presence at any time in any place I might be. The experience was not intended to prove my faith no more than the pictures in the dentist’s office was an attempt to prove the love of his family. Both experiences sought to remember appreciate and grow in a particular identified love. Here are a few examples of what I am talking about. I will give you a few more tomorrow. Maybe we have been doing this together all along without realizing it or telling one another. Maybe not and you would like to discover it yourself for the first time. Maybe you enjoy beautiful colors in nature or in art. The primary colors are red yellow and blue, 1-2-3. The secondary colors are green orange and purple, 1-2-3. (ALL colors are present in white light. There is but one God!) All time is past present future, 1-2-3. All the rooms of the house are made up of floor ceiling and walls 1-2-3. Liquids are measured in pints quarts and gallons, 1-2-3.