Sunday, August 31, 2014

Blog # 345 God's Presence in #'s

      Blog # 345  God's Presence in #'s

                     1x9+2=11                                                         1x8+1=9
                   12x9+3=111                                                     12x8+2=98
                 123x9+4=1111                                                 123x8+3=987
               1234x9+5=11111                                             1234x8+4=9876
             12345x9+6=111111                                         12345x8+5=98765
           123456x9+7=1111111                                     123456x8+6=987654
          1234567x9+8=11111111                                 1234567x8+7=9876543
        12345678x9+9=111111111                              12345678x8+8=98765432            
     123456789x9+10=1111111111                          123456789x8+9=987654321

                                             Write down the digits from one to nine, omitting
     1+1=2 Always!                eight.  Select one of these digits.  Multiply it by
       Everywhere!                  nine and multiply the original row of digits by the
            Dependable!              answer. The final answer will be all digits of the
               Trustworthy!          number selected repeated eight times.
                                              Example:  Number 4 x 9  = 36
                                                                           ______    36                             
                9x9+7=88                                                           1x1=1
               98x9+6=888                                                      11x11=121           
              987x9+5=8888                                                 111x111=12321  
              9876x9+4=88888                                          1111x1111=1234321
             98765x9+3=888888                                   111111x11111=123454321
            987654x9+2=8888888                             1111111x1111111=12345654321
           9876543x9+1=88888888                       11111111x11111111=123456787654321           
          98765432x9+0=888888888                 111111111x111111111=12345678987654321

          That configuration of numbers came to me from a friend who received it from another friend who is a Moslem.  There were several comments on it from other Moslems.  One of them, which is typical of the rest, was "Here is an interesting and lovely way to look at the beauty of mathematics, and of God, the sum of all wonders".

          As a Catholic priest and theologian I have thought a great deal through the years about the presence of God. St.Thomas Aquinas, one of the Church's greatest theologians, asked the question whether we could even speak of God with any significance.  His answer was "Yes", but only if we
realize  that whatever we think or say of God must be understood analogously. It is something like
having a picture of George Washington and asking the question "Who is that?" in the picture. We
correctly say George Washington but realize we are speaking analogously.  It is true and not true
at the same time.  To say of the picture it is anyone other than George Washington would be an
error.  To say God is wise, or God is good, with the meaning of what we say is God is better or
more wise and good than others rather than God is good analogously, understood as infinitely different than all others in a way that is beyond all measure and we are absolutely incompetent to  understand fully.
             In desiring to know the truth about God's presence we come upon the question of certitude
and degrees of certitude.  Experience and mathematical certitude would be listed as our greatest natural certitudeOther degrees of certitude would fall under the terms of opinion. guess. hope, a claim to truth as fitting, and that coming from the degree of confidence we have in the testimony of another. The certitude we possess from the supernatural gift of faith in the testimony of God, is greater than all natural certitude and requires faith to make it real.                   
               When I received the email I have printed  out for you it occurred to me to think of God being present in numbers. I didn't remember ever thinking of it the way the thought began to
unravel for me . I started out with the identity we give to God as the sole Creator of all that exists. Numbers are real. They exist by the will of God and belong to God. They manifest and bear witness to God's infinite power wisdom goodness and love. It is mind boggling how much numbers
play a part in the daily lives of people in very nation on earth and in every language.
                   How much do bananas potatoes and onions cost today?  When were  you born?  There
are three billion neurons in the normal human brain. Telephone numbers, street addresses, golf
scores,  speed limits along the highway, light traveling at 186,000 miles a second, day and night.
 all are measured in numbers. There is a temperature of 30,000,000 degrees in the interior of the sun, and  scientists speak of stars in the billions, billions of light years away.
                     An impressive fact about numbers that I consider more than something merely accidental is that every number begins and has reference to number one.  We can't get to number two or to any other number without going through number one.  In counting our ten fingers or in counting fifty billion stars we start with number one. That fits in with our identity of a our sole Creator, with all else that exists depending upon God and beginning with God and existing due to the fact God is in them and they are in God as their source and the power keeping them in existence..                                                                    
                  I have experienced spiritual writers inviting us to be aware of  and responsive to God's presence in the colors shapes and sounds of creation in nature all around us, but I do not remember any of them referring explicitly to the wonderful opportunity we have of discovering God and responding to God whenever and wherever we deal with numbers, and inviting us to rejoice, be grateful, and glorify Him in His presence there.  Further, it is interesting how everything we consider in colors shapes and sounds is measured by numbers,  primary colors, red, yellow, blue,1-2-3, a box 24" by 32", eight notes in an octave.
                    In gathering the crumbs left over from the miraculous feeding of 5,000 people, Jesus let it be known He didn't want anything wasted. I am inviting you not to let the many numbers in  your everyday life go by unused or wasted but that  you would find in them a solid ground for your closeness to God and growth in your love for God.             




Thursday, August 28, 2014

Blog # 344 God' Love

Blog # 344   God's Love

            In a family of two girls and two boys, there are many items in the house besides the children.
Toys, clothing, food, furniture, children, books, parents all go to identify the family.  What a difference there is in being one of the toys or one of the children!
             It is easy to see the advantage the boys and girl have over the shoes and shirts.  It is easy to see how much more pleasure and enjoyment the father of the family receives from his children than from their toys.  The father gets his money's worth from the toys just because they are toys.  They have nothing to say about it.  They make the children happy and they do the job for which they were made.
               But the children are different.  Sometimes they are good and sometimes they are not what they should be.  Sometimes they bring joy, and sometimes they bring sorrow.  Sometimes they echo back the love of their father.  Sometimes when he speaks his love to them an echo does not come back. They are free to love, but by that very fact they are free not to love
                  So it is with God and the world.  He is a father too.  We are His children.  He loves us with an everlasting love. He shows that love to us from all angles, all day and all night.  He waits for us to echo back that love.  But we are free to ignore Him if we so desire, and go off to play with our toys, the world. 
                    When God invites us to echo back His love and trade our weak faltering human love for a share in His strong everlasting divine love, we are free to say yes or no. 
                     God's love made the mountains. God's love made the sea. God's love made each of us.
Our call is to discover God's love in ourselves and in all creation, rejoice in it, spread it among our neighbors, and echo it back to God where He keeps it forever with Him, our Father,  in Heaven our eternal home.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Blog # 343 Expanded awareness

Blog # 343  Expanded awareness

              Years ago when I was Pastor of  one of our Glenmary Mission out in Oklahoma. I  used to publish an article each week in the local newspaper.  Blog  # 343 is a copy of one of those articles.  Reading it over this morning I found it a source of blessing and thought you might find it that way too. 

                As I sit here at my typewriter in the church office, the new First Baptist Church is being constructed directly across the street.  Two men are on the roof hammering nails.  A third man is climbing up to join them.  It is a beautiful sunny day.
                  It occurred to me to think of this same church building ten years from now.  It is a typical Sunday morning service. The church is full. The music is beautiful. The message is clear and consoling.  People are happy and thankful for the opportunity of expressing their faith, praise, and thanks to God.
                     Then my thoughts came back to today as the church is being constructed.  Many nails are being hammered into the roof. Each nail is a real part of the church, though small in itself and not at all doing the work of other parts of the church or of other nails.
                     Ten years from now there may be hundreds of people a the service I envisioned a few minutes ago. Yet I would think none of hem will be thinking of the nails being used today in the church's construction. It is not that anyone would deny the existence of the nails or say they are not useful or important to the building. They are merely not remembered, not thought of, and as a result to some extent unreal.
                      A similar experience as this is possible in other areas of our lives as well. Unless we take time out to reflect, unless we train ourselves to be observant. and unless we are ready to see and appreciate all there is around us, there is danger we will see only a small portion of it, see and appreciate too little to be as happy and appreciative as God and the world around us deserve.
                      I look again across the street. So much more is going on than the construction of a
building. I think of the person who invented the hammer and appreciate the great gift this has been to all who work with wood and nails. The buttons on each shirt, the shoes on each foot, the hats, jackets, and jeans, the tailors, the shoemakers, are all real.  All are part of me if I permit them to be so.
                    I think of several people who are possibly reading these reflections. I pray for you to the Lord, that you may rejoice in all God is doing in our lives, that you may strive to know and love the Lord more perfectly every day, that you may be happy in your faith and knowledge of Jesus, that the Holy Spirit will bless you with a deep appreciation of creation, the things and people around  us whom God has given us as a reminder and expression of His Presence among us and of HIs infinite love for us all.
                     Thanks be to God for every nail in the roof of my house, for every pane of glass in its windows, for every inch of the path that leads to the street, and every person I will ever meet, and above all and in them all, thanks be to Thee, O Lord, for your love and my faith in You. Amen!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Blog # 342 Life a Game of Bowling

Blog # 342  Life a Game of Bowling

            I think I  may have used this same text in a previous blog or a Christmas letter  a couple of years ago but I am not sure.  I came upon it this morning when I was culling out some notes in a file cabinet and found it a source of blessing.  Even if you may remember it from before you may find it a source of blessing and inspiration again as I have done.  I hope so.

             One morning out of the blue it occurred to me as I was driving by a local bowling alley to view the Christian life and experience like a bowling game. Jesus used to do something like this using wheat fields fishing nets seeds being sown in a field and other experiences that were familiar to those to whom He was speaking. His parables are rich in being able to be applied for us today even in our modern world of high tech skills and immense new knowledge of what God has created for us in what we call 'our world'. A bowling game became my wheat field and fishing net.  Now when I pass a bowling alley it tells me "You are here!" I hope it will be an ongoing  invitation for you to grow in holiness and faithfully persevere until the end of  your 'game'.

             Here is the way the parable goes.  The Kingdom of Heaven, the Christian life and experience, where God is present by faith, sought by hope, and discovered by love, wherever and whenever all or any of this may be, is like a bowling game.

              First we have a bowling alley.  It is an item intelligently designed and structured precisely for the game of bowling.  There is an open space or gutter at both sides of the alley. Next we have ten pins set in a particular order to form a triangle at the far end of the alley. Then we have a large ball with holes drilled into it to fit your particular fingers to permit you to hold the ball and roll it comfortably and accurately. The object of the game is to knock down the pins.   A perfect game is indicated by a perfect score of 300.

             Often when Jesus finished giving one of His parables His disciples or someone in the crowd around Him asked Him to clarify the meaning of the parable for them.  They knew He was not talking about wheat or talents or fish even though He was talking about wheat and talents and fish. There was more to what He was saying than the sounds of it. The words were intended to be  enriched and applied to individual unique everyday experiences. So it is with the parable of the bowling game.  And so...

             The alley can be taken at one time as creation itself, the whole of it, or at other times, on a smaller scale, our individual personal unique lives.  Both are intelligently designed and structured for a specific purpose.  All of creation, from the largest star to you and me was intelligently designed and structured by our single Creator-God. Therefore the meaning and purpose of all that exists is to be found in God.   And since GOD IS LOVE,  ( 1 Jn. 4: 8, 16) the meaning of the whole of creation can be found in love.  LOVE is the object of the GAME OF LIFE, just as knocking down the pins is the object of the game of bowling. 

               Created as we are, uniquely and personally in the image of God, we are capable of understanding and realizing this in a unique personal way. Jesus told us this when someone asked Him what is the first of the Commandments.  It is to love God with your whole heart and mind and strength , totally.

                 What could stop or hinder us from loving God with our whole heart mind and strength?  A similar question can be asked of bowling  What can stop us from a perfect game?  The ten pins. the very same realities that in response to our skill create our victory, in response to a lesser skill create our failure!

                    A champion bowler knows each of the pins by name from one to ten. And if, for example, there is  a seven and a three pin left on the alley in a particular frame of the game he or she has learned by observation and talking to other champion bowlers who have faced the same situation, by practice, and even through error perhaps that if he or she perseveres in his or her desire, we can learn how the critical seven and ten pins can be knocked down together with a single roll of the ball.  If all the pins are knocked down every time the ball is thrown , a perfect game of bowling can be achieved.

                    In this, bowling is different from other games we play such as football baseball and soccer.  There is no such thing as a perfect game of football. . YOUR perfect game, yes, but not a perfect game of football.  You can loose a game of football with a score of 46 and win a football game with a score of 7.  There is no absolute standard for determining a perfect game of football.  In bowling that is not the case.  Knock down all the pins, the game is over and you have a perfect game of bowling.  And only then.

                       The same question that came with bowling comes with the 'game' of life: What can stop or hinder from  achieving a 'score' of perfect love in our 'game' of life?  As with the ten pins in a bowling game,  we can name the obstacles in our personal lives that prevent or diminish our ability to experience perfect love.  Our sins, moral weaknesses, procrastination, excuses, temptation, and lack of awareness are among the 'pins' that can be identified as standing in the way of achieving a perfect score (Rom.8: 35, 39.

                   Recognizing perfect love as the perfect score in the 'game' of life, we ask  the question:  Is  there a perfect love that can be achieved?    Is it with love as it is with football and baseball where you can have your perfect game, the best you can do, but not the perfect game?

                     If the answer to that question were Yes, life would still be a wonderful gift and worth living.  But the answer is No.    Life is different from football and baseball where you do your best.  Life is like bowling where  you reach for an absolute value named perfect love.   The fundamental question becomes: What is the meaning of  perfect love?  "...with your whole heart, and mind, and with all your strength."

                        We keep on living day by day with this wonderful dream and desire of our Creator within us and at the same time aware of falling short. Just think for a moment of the case of Jesus and Mary His mother.  We believe both of them were  totally without sin for their entire lives.  Yet  Scripture indicates for us that Jesus was tempted, and if that were the case we can  imagine Mary was tempted too. and like Jesus without sin by choices on her part. Applying once more the parable of the bowling game, we see incidences in their lives as in ours that might tempt us to sin that had to be cast out by choices in order for us to love more perfectly.  That they did. That we keep trying to do.

                     The perfect game of bowling is certified by the last pin to go down. In the 'game' of life the last pin to go down is death. And this is true for everyone. It was true for Mary and Jesus. Death it is that could tempt us to think God is unfair, cruel, uncaring, waiting in Heaven to judge us.  Seen that way it is a difficult pin to  knock down, a temptation to let it overshadow all the good things that have made up our lives, including the forgiveness of our sin rather than and opportunity of  transforming it into our absolutely greatest act of love.  The last pin to go down is the greatest threat to a perfect game.  It is also the pin that declares the winner.  Jesus named that pin  the  greatest love.  "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life..." To love means to give and the more we love the more we give. The only way to love perfectly is to give it all.  This is possible only in death.  Until the very instant of death there is more to give, even if it is only that very instant.

                We believe that in the Church, the Body of Christ, we are joined to Jesus through faith and  Baptism as a branch on  a vine, sharing the same life Jesus brought from Heaven and shares with us in a limited human way.  ( cf Jn 15: 4,5; 17: 21,23,26),  As branches are joined to a vine a vine is joined to the branches.  In the bowling game of Christian life we are bowlers and Jesus is the ball!  Understand  that and you understand the deepest meaning and value of the event of that first Christmas!  EMMANUEL-God Among Us! 
               May your love be deep and joyful and faithful to the end!   Happy Christmas every day of your life!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Blog #341 God's Love

Blog # 341 God's Love

             Chapter 10:  vv 1 - 20 of Luke 's Gospel gives the story of Jesus sending out disciples to the places He intended to visit and the excitement the disciples exhibit when they come back to Jesus reporting that even the demons were cast out through their message.  Jesus responds by telling them (v. 18) He "watched Satan fall from the sky like lightning"  Then in v. 20 He tells them "do not rejoice so  much in the fact the devils are subject to you as that your names are inscribed in heaven."

             Throughout the world  Mother Teresa of Calcutta was acknowledged as a holy person. She accomplished a great deal in her love for the poor and afflicted. Yet if we study her life and the talks she gave on occasions of dedicating hospitals and places of refuge for the poor, it is evident that, in her own mind, her holiness did not consist so much in what she accomplished as in her personal relationship with God.  It was in God's Name and with God's power within herself that she did what she did and said what she said.  And it has been this way with holy people down though the ages.

               In the Gospel passage from Luke that I have cited Jesus reinforces that testimony of Mother  Teresa.  Rejoice not so  much that demons have fallen but "that your names are inscribed in  heaven."
I find it significant Luke has Jesus use the present tense of the verb in the response of Jesus. It reads "are inscribed" rather than " will be inscribed".   We generally think of heaven  as coming in the future rather than as present in some way now as well as in the future.  We go to Heaven, presumably in the future.

                   If what we do is an expression of who we are, and this seems to be what Jesus was telling the returning missionaries, then we do rejoice in what we do,yes, but even more so in who we are. Both elements of our identity are the will of  God and cause for rejoicing, but one is temporary the other for now and forever
                  It is easy to understand the joy the disciples experienced in casting out the demons and the joy as well of those from whom the demons were cast out. I asked myself must this joy, so easily understood and appreciated, be the experience of disciples of Jesus back in the time of Jesus two thousand years ago , or should it be ours as well today.   The answer came : Yes. it can, it should be ours. Then I set out to discover how, when, and why.

                I began to realize more clearly the meaning and impact of the fact I believe in one God, the  Creator of all, as we profess each Sunday at Mass.  The God who forgave His Chosen People away back in the pages of the Old Testament is the same God who forgives our sins.  The same Lord Jesus who sent His disciples out to prepare for His coming to various cities in Palestine is the same Lord Jesus who leads us today to wherever He wishes us to be, in our work places, in our kitchens, in our churches, among the poor, among the rich, living the message of salvation for the sake of those around us as well as for ourselves.
                    There is but one God.  Everything and everyone is connected in God's love. "Love your neighbor as yourself". If we understand that and put it into practice in all that we think and speak and do, our names will be inscribed in heaven, now by faith, and when our life here on earth is complete by experience.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Blog #338 Going to Church

Blog  # 338  Going to Church

               I know a church on Long Island where several thousands of people come to church each Sunday.  I would like to have the opportunity of asking each of those people why they were coming. I wonder if anyone ever asks them. I wonder if they know.

               Many people go to church by force of habit. It is a good habit, we know that, so we keep it. But like other habits, once we get the habit we don't need much of an additional reason or motive to keep the action going other than the habit itself. Chances are if the dominant reason we go to church on Sunday is a habit, our neighbor's reason for not going might be that he doesn't  have the habit. His reason for not going sounds about as good as another person's reason for going.  He doesn't bother us and we don't bother him.  Life goes on, and we all die in our turn.

           Some people go to church because they continue to appreciate the habit they received in growing  up in a church-going  family, or perhaps they feel they 'owe it to  God'.  After all, God gives us so much and asks so little in return and we do need the strength and support of God's love to help us live faithfully in the current secular irreligious culture of our present moment of history in the US.

           I claim the ideal reason ,essential and adequate in itself,  for going to church is to worship God.  Other good reasons can combine with this primary one in different families at different times and seasons. Among these would be something of the reason a young man goes to visit his sweetheart, the reason a man joins with others to play a game of softball, the reason a man sits on a beech by the ocean to watch the sun go down, the reason a man plants a garden or goes to work, or finds this a special occasion every week joyfully and generously to renew the love he and his wife pledged to one another at Mass at the time of their wedding twenty years ago. 

             Going to church should have at least a share of  the desire, joy, wisdom, and enthusiasm of the rest of our life combined.  If that seems 'off the wall' for you, join your parish liturgy committee.
If your parish does not have one try to get one started.  And if the agenda of the liturgy committee you have is just to pick out the hymns and assign sacristy work among volunteers try to upgrade it
through programs of adult religious education to help folks coming to Mass understand what it means to worship God as a Catholic Christian and identify their offering Mass each Sunday as a genuine blessing they would not want to miss.

          Why do you go to church?   Why not?                  

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Blog # 337 St. Anthony

Blog  # 337  St. Anthony

              About ten years ago, before my brother Ed died, I  had the opportunity of driving down to Florida to visit  Ed and two nieces living there.

                One of my nieces had told me of her nephew's approaching Confirmation and that he had chosen the name Anthony as a Patron. She wanted to get him a life of St. Anthony and  a small statue of  the Saint for his room but had not been able to find them close to home.

                  On my way back, on Interstate 95, I passed about seven miles west of St. Augustine.  I knew there was a large religious goods store there so I turned off the Interstate and headed for St. Augustine.

                    When I slowed down on the two-lane I noticed the car seemed to be tending to swerve to the right.  Then when I got to town it was  more noticeable.  After buying the life of St. Anthony and the statue I found a Ford place very close.  It was lunch hour so no one was on deck. There was a garage almost immediately next door and I saw one of the mechanics standing outside eating his lunch so I stopped there.

                   He diagnosed the trouble right away and sent me down the street a bit further to Old City Tire Company.  Though the treads seemed to be OK, my right front tire was coming apart!

                   What a different story this might have been if I had had a blowout at 70 MPH as I was driving along side an eighteen wheeler on the Interstate!   I imagined my niece telling her friends that St. Anthony saved my life, and I wouldn't deny that.

                      My Confirmation name is Anthony too.

Blog # 339 Unity in Truth

Blog  # 339  Unity in Truth

                  We are in the Gospel of John, Chapter 17, v 17ff.  Jesus is with the Apostles in the final hours He would spend with them before His agony in Gethsemane and His loving and obedient death on the  Cross.  We hear Jesus saying:  " I pray...for those who will believe in me.  May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as You are in me and I am in You, so that the world may believe it was You who sent Me.   I have given them the glory You gave to Me, that they may be one as we are one.  With Me in them and You in Me, may they be so completely one that the world will realize it was You who sent Me and that I loved them as much as You have loved Me.

                 I can not see how anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus could take these words of Jesus lightly.  Yet we tolerate divisions of the Church almost as if they were not in contradiction to His prayer and desire. Part of the problem seems to be that none of us wants to be wrong or deficient in our faith, and in order to give ourselves the security we need to live in the conviction that we are right it turns out that others who differ from us logically must be wrong.  Then we try to discover, with various levels of success, and generally with little or no significant personal contact with members of the actual people we are judging, the errors of the other churches   On the other hand, the way I see it, none of us is complete until all of us are one.  Isn't that clearly what Jesus prayed for the night before He died?

                 Suppose you were a teacher, and you had eighteen students in your class.  Suppose you taught them all to spell cat C-A- T.  In learning it, all eighteen students would agree with you.   But then, when they related to one another, if they really learned what you taught, it  would necessarily follow they would also agree among themselves.  If not, something would be wrong. That would be true of a first grade class in arithmetic and a course in theology. 

                    And it is similar to the way it is with churches. Jesus is the teacher of all.  We wish to learn and believe, to follow and to live what He taught.  We want to agree with Jesus. We want to be one with Him. Others feel the same way about Him. The fact we are not one indicates something is wrong. 
                  I invite you to join me in praying with Jesus about it.  "Father, That all be one...that the world may believe it was You who sent Me."

Blog # 336 What? and Why?

Blog # 336  What? and Why?

               Many years ago when I was a boy I used to go shopping for a neighbor who was
housebound and lived across the street from us.  If you were the person behind me at the checkout counter you could see what I was doing by observing  the onions, raisins, shredded wheat,  and peanut butter I had laid out on the counter.  But to know the whole story of what I was doing you would have to know why I was doing it.  The lady who lived across the street was a major part of that.  I was sent for this.  If we are to understand what a person is doing we have to understand why he or she is doing it.

                    So it is with Jesus.  Christmas is connected to His teaching, kindness, and miracles. These are connected to Calvary and Calvary is connected to Easter.  Easter is connected to the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven and His Ascension is connected to Pentecost.  The Eternal Word of God had come to do the Father's will.  He was sent for this. He was on earth for a certain time, like us in all but sin.  "...I do always the will of Him Who sent me."

                    The Word did not cease to be divine in coming among us.  Yet in order to be really one of us He had to be limited by space time and all the limitations that are ours.  He had to learn how , in His own time and place, in His own limited human way to express His eternal divine love for the
Father and all creation. He had to be satisfied for the time being to experience develop and express His divine love in human limited words thoughts and actions.

                       Jesus had to learn how to pray. In His limited short-lived human experience He had to praise and thank the Father for a very small part of all He knew God had done.  Maybe it was something like our experience of thanking God for the stars we see, knowing all the while there are far more we do not see.

                          We believe, and this is a very important truth in all that we believe, that all Jesus was sent to do, was done not only for the Father's glory, but in a special specific way for us.  We need to deepen our understanding and awareness of this element of our faith in coming to a complete understanding of the total mission of the Word of God in Jesus on earth.  We must guard against viewing the life of Jesus as an attempt on His part to set a pace, as it were, to put down footprints for us to follow. Abraham and  Moses, St. Paul and St Mary Magdalene, St Francis of  Assisi and our Patron Saints were sent for this. Jesus was sent for this and more.

                Jesus 'came' from Heaven and lived among us as one of us that we might 'go' to Heaven living in Him!  The gift of this reality is what we have called Sanctifying Grace the gift of sharing God's life, making us holy, or like to God.  This is what Jesus was trying to explain to Nicodemus when he spoke to him about being "born from above" and how necessary this was for anyone to "see", which means in this context to understand and experience the Kingdom of God. 

               Down through the ages, back to the very beginning of our story, the Church has taken these words of Jesus at face value.   As with St. Paul, we are a "new creation" in Jesus through faith and Baptism.  Jesus did not just go before us in a previous moment of history.  He lives in us today. He did not merely live for us as a role model but shared with us His very life. "...and the life I live now is not my own alone; Christ is living in me." (Gal. 2:20; Jn. 14: 23; 15: 1 - 5). This truth is beyond our limited human competence to discover on our own. It is a supernatural truth.  It requires faith to accept it. God, in Jesus, is our dependable and trustworthy witness to this faith. 

               We identify the gift of Sanctifying  Grace not as a  house in which we live, or clothing we put on, but  more like medicine which heals us from within or food that gives us energy and life.  God's divine life is shared with us in our limited  human way.  Jesus has gone to prepare a place for those who live this faith so that where He is they might forever be, in God's eternal love. (Jn. 14: 2 - 3).

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Blog # 335 Come, Lord Jesus !

Blog # 335  Come, Lord Jesus !

                  "Come, Lord Jesus !" are the words John uses in his conclusion of the  Book of Revelation and the entire Bible. It is a beautiful prayer. Perhaps it would be good for us to reflect a little upon the possible meaning and application  of John's words for each and all of us, what they actually mean or could men in our everyday experience of life and death. 

                     Come, Lord Jesus!   Just think what it might mean to us individually and as a community if Jesus were to appear in Cincinnati as He used to appear in Jerusalem Jericho  and Bethany.  If Jesus were to come into your home this evening, what would that mean to you?   What preparations would  you make for His coming, what would you say to Him, and what would you expect him to say to you?  And yet, in a very real sense Jesus is already present wherever we may be.

                    "Wherever two or three are gathered in  my name, there am I in the midst of them."   Jesus is in our town. "I was hungry and you gave me something  to eat, sick and  you visited me, homeless and you gave me shelter.  As long as you did it to one of these the least of my brethren you did it to me." "I am with you always, even to the end of the world." 

                   Though familiar with the texts I have just given, we are still in danger of forgetting  or overlooking their meaning and practical applications in our everyday experience. 

                    Come, Lord Jesus.  If we really mean this prayer it would seem we would find ourselves seeking and finding the Lord wherever He could be found, in prayer, in Bible study, in the poor and the needy, in our conscience and in our relationships with one another.
                    And yet there is more. By faith we live not only in the presence of Jesus but  united with Him in our life of  Sanctifying Grace. "I am the vine and you are the branches." The fifteenth Chapter of  John  has this beautiful way of saying it: "Live on in me as I do in you." 

                     Come, Lord Jesus. Be with us and within us.  Instruct  us in your ways. Help us day by day to work out uniquely in each of us our Father's plan for holiness and salvation. Help us believe and be aware of how you are present also in those around us. Help us to hear your call and command to love them as you have loved us, to hope and seek for them the peace and joy we receive from you.. (Jn. 13: 34-35; 15:12,17.  Thank You, Lord Jesus, Amen !   

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Blog # 334 FAITHFUL


               Just think for a moment what a difference it would have made in your life if you had been born in Germany or in Japan or here in the United States. Just think of what a difference it would have made if you had been born into a family of two or of twelve. Think of the difference it would have made if you were born poor instead of rich, or rich instead of poor.  Think of how different it would be for you if  you were, at this moment, sick or well, or healthy instead of sick.

             The language you speak, the songs you would sing, the food you would eat, would  all be
different if  you were born in some other part of the world.  Your friends would be different, your education would be different, your house and clothes would be different if you were born either rich or poor.  Your ability to do and enjoy things, your energy, and your feelings would be different if you were healthy or sick at this moment.

             Now, with faith - in what way and to what extent does our faith in God and Jesus make a difference in our lives?   Take this past week as a sample.  How and to what extent did faith make a difference in your life?  At home. At work. In school. When you were alone. With others. When things went right.  When things went wrong. Do  the differences you think of, or lack of differences, surprise you?  Are you happy and satisfied with them? What  could you or should you change in order to make the picture more clear, more satisfying?  Good questions for growing in faith.

            Unless a Japanese or a German knows about some other language and customs he or she would hardly be aware of the fact he or he is different as a Japanese or a German. So I think it is with faith. Unless we stop from time to time to think of what difference our faith makes to us it might happen that it doesn't make much difference at all. And if we do not think of or know or desire the difference faith can make we will hardly turn out to be, as Paul describes people who have faith, a new creation, a different person.
             I think perhaps the most fundamental and among the most important differences faith cam make in our lives is to  give us the possession of a habit of living in the presence of God.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Blog # 340 Our Baptismal Identity

Blog  #  340  Our Baptismal Identity

                 A man receives an MD degree from Harvard Medical school; a woman passes the bar examination in Philadelphia;  a man receives his badge as a police officer in Cincinnati all on the same day, June 1, 2014.  Each of the three had a certain degree of knowledge and a certain competence on the day before June 1 as they had on the day after.  The primary and essential difference that twenty four hours made in their lives was signified but not constituted by the badge and certificates they received.

                   Rather the difference was something within them.   Yesterday's knowledge and competence had been measured as adequate to receive and sustain a new personal and essentially different recognition, identification, and authorization for a definite work or goal.  Now, and only now, were they a medical doctor, a lawyer, and a police officer with all of the privileges and responsibilities that went with their new identification.

                     It is something like this with our Catholic theology of Baptism.  If we Baptized a baby weighing ten pounds on June 1, we should not be surprised that the baby weighed ten pounds on June 2.  Fitting amazement however should come from our faith conviction that this little baby, humanly equal to every other baby born throughout the world, yet personally unique among them, is now a new creation ( 2 Cor. 5: 17 ), a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6: 19),  united with Jesus in a new mode of life (  Jn. 3: 15),  and consequently united with all others who have been Baptized throughout the world as branches of a single vine (Jn 15: 5), the Church.
                       Though a doctor is not always prescribing medicine, a lawyer is not always in a courtroom, and a police officer is not always directing traffic, each of them is always a doctor, a lawyer, or a police officer.  Their identity in each of these categories is internal and comprehensive
Each of them is always and everywhere what they have been identified to be.   So it is for a Baptized Christian.  We are personally and officially identified internally and comprehensively with Jesus always and everywhere.  "Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory is Yours, Almighty Father, for ever and ever."

                       The greatest act Jesus performed was to give His life on the Cross.  To love means to give. Calvary was absolutely the most perfect act of love, ever, the Eternal Word of God, in Jesus, giving His life, all He had on earth to give, in obedience to the Father's will.( Jn. 14 31).  Identified with Jesus through Baptism, the love of Jesus is to be our love.  Our obedience is  to be the obedience of Jesus, all the way up to and including our greatest act of love, our death. 
                        Let us pray.  Lord Jesus, guide  us in our quest for happiness and peace, with ourselves and in the world in which we live at this particular moment in history.  Remind us over and  ever again that You did not leave us orphans, that you are ever with us and within us, ever calling us to discover the Father's unique plan for each of us in our knowledge of history and the lives of Your Saints, in Scripture, in the Church, in our everyday experience of life,  in the needs and stories of those around us, in our conscience, and in our prayer, Amen!

Scripture references :  Heb. 10 5 - 9;  Jn. 4:34; 5: 30; 6: 38; 7: 18;  Mat, 6: 10; Jn 4:34; 8: 27,29; 15: 13,17; 14: 15, 23, 30, 31).  


Blog # 333 GREATNESS

Blog # 333 GREATNESS

                 Did you ever look back into history at certain great men and women with admiration, and say within yourself that you wished you had the opportunities these men and women  had?  Did it ever appear to you that you were born too late, or in the wrong place?  If only I had the opportunities this particular man or woman had!  What I would have done! If only I had been born in the 1st Century, like Peter ...

               Actually none of us was born when or where we were born by accident as far as God is concerned.  Nothing happens by accident with God. And so we can learn a  great deal from how others achieved happiness and did great things years ago, but we must realize that for ourselves the time to be great and happy is not eleven Centuries ago, or fifty years ago, but now.

             Each one of us has something God desires.  And this something nobody else but ourselves possesses or can give.   It is our love.

               God doesn't need any great heroic deeds that we might do with the attitude we are doing God a favor.  Back in the Old Testament times some of God's people were sacrificing valuable goats and oxen to God  as if  this were something God Himself had need of, and at the same time were being disobedient to God's will in other matters.  God told them very plainly He had no need of their sacrifices, but He wanted their love. ( Psalm 49).

               If God were  hungry He would not have to tell us about it in order to get something  to eat, for all the world is His, and everything in the world is kept in existence by force of His will.  The people were neglecting the most important part of their obligation toward God when they failed to join their sacrifices with love and obedience.  That  too is what Jesus means when in Matthew (7:21) He says not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord shall enter he Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father.

            So we ask ourselves today not how we can do the great works of Saints of old, but how we can share their love.  Our greatness before God is our love.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Blog # 332 Whatever you do...

Blog # 332  Whatever you do...

            "Whatever  you do, whether in speech or in action, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus."  (Col. 3: 17).  Yesterday morning when I was reflecting upon this particular verse of Scripture it occurred to me to imagine something of the meaning of what the author was saying by way of comparing his thought with the identity of fire.

                A characteristic of fire is that it is hot, and whatever fire touches shares the heat of the fire, becoming hot like the fire itself.  Then, whatever has been heated by the fire, shares its heat in turn with whatever it will touch.   When whatever has been warmed by the fire begins to cool it can be heated  again by contact with the fire.  Isn't it something like this with regard to our identity as Christian believers and our contact with Jesus?

               Jesus is the 'original' Christian as fire is a source of heat.  Our identity as Christian believers is that we have been 'touched'  through God's grace with the love of  God in Jesus.  In this experience we are not only  made to be like Jesus as a picture of fire resembles fire in its color and physical appearance.  Rather we are like Jesus by way of actually sharing the mind, attitude, and Spirit of Jesus as an object touching fire actually makes some of the heat of the fire its very own.  And as an object warmed by fire is capable of warming other objects placed in contact with it, though in itself it is not the fire, so we who have been 'born from above' (Jn. 3:3)  and have so become a 'new creation'  in Christ ( 2 Cor. 5: 17)  are qualified and called, through the love God shares with us to share God's love with those around us.

              And this is to be true in "whatever we do, in speech or in action (Col. 3:17 above).  I wonder how many people realize this truth in the sense of understanding it, and then secondly realize it in the sense of making it real in their lives, in speech and action.  As members of His Body the Church by Baptism we are qualified and called not merely to imitate the example of Jesus, but to share it by living it in union with Jesus in hope those around us will be warmed by the 'flame' of the Spirit in us and seek the Baptismal gift we have shared with them.
( cf Jn. 17 20-23;  Mt. 10: 40;  Jn. 15: 1-5;  Gal. 2:20;  Rom. 64;  2 Cpr.5:17;  Col. 2:13 ).

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Blog # 331 Notes

Blog # 331   Notes

Here are a few entries I made in a  pocket note book years ago.  I think I shared them in a  Blog about three years ago but I thought you  might have missed it then or, like myself, would be blessed by  capturing them again.

One ship drives east, another west
With the self-same winds that blow;
It's the set of the sails
And not the gales,
Which decides the way they go.        Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate;
                                                            As we voyage on through life.
                                                             It's the will of the soul
                                                             That decides its goal
                                                              And not the calm or the strife.
                             ****                         ****                    ****                     ****

                                                   THE HAND THAT MADE US IS DIVINE !

                                                                                              We expect a pro ballplayer to get a hit, run fast, tackle well, get the ball into the basket.  We expect the work of a  professional artist to be beautiful.  We feel confident in the hands of a highly recommended surgeon.  We follow the roads mapped out for us by AAA.  The Hand that made us is DIVINE!  What do we expect from God?   
How well do we trust Him?

                                                            ##                                      ##

      ...I  knew there would be a sunrise, but the pattern and color of the actual sunrise today was available only as it was happening.  God was alive and present for me.


By simply living we are constantly receiving God's gifts.  By faith, we receive God!

When sunset falls upon our day,
And fades from out the west,
When business cares are put away,
And we lie down to rest,
The measure of  today's success                          Is there beside some hearth  tonight,
or failure may be told                                           More joy because we wrought?
In terms of human happiness,                               Does someone face the bitter fight               
and not in terms of gold.                                       With courage we have taught?
                                                                               Is something added to the store,
                                                                               Of human happiness?
                                                                                If so, the day that now is o'er
                                                                                Has been a real success.

                                                           ((((                              ))))

                   The Great Conversation about things that matter most has been going on from the beginning of the creation of free human beings.  And now it is our turn!

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Blog  # 329     Presence of Jesus

               Long ago and far away.  Those words seem rather innocent, and yet, in religion, they can be  dangerous.
                Long ago and far away are words of joy when spoken of pneumonia back home in New York City eighty years ago.  Long ago and far away.  Thanks be to God!
                Jesus in Jerusalem long ago and far away. There is the danger.  We believe the Eternal Word of God received the name Jesus in the historical reality of the incarnation. Both names refer to a single person
                  Jesus is the timeless man and Nazareth is the world.  We do not know Jesus if we do not know Him in the here and now.  For genuine Christians , wherever there is praise and thanksgiving to the Father, wherever there is forgiveness of sins in His name, wherever there is hope for eternal life, there is Jesus, living among us and within us by His Spirit, blessing us with joy and giving us strength.
                 By faith  Jesus steps of of history and lives with us today. He calls us to the newness and development of tomorrow.
                  Faith is knowledge.  But the knowledge must be received,  handed down , given. 
" comes by hearing."  ( Rom. 10:17).  We need a witness, someone who speaks  to us and tells  us something we would not otherwise know.

                    Jesus is our witness to the Father's life and love. The Eternal Word knew the Father by experience. Emmanuel, the Eternal Word incarnatein Jesus became a witness to the Father on earth by His life and words. Jesus testified that the Father is worthy of our unconditional trust and total love, the Father loves all people and wants all to come to the Father through Jesus.

                     Christians down through the ages have gone to all corners of the world sharing the knowledge they have by faith in this same message of Jesus.  For Junipero Serra Jesus and he walked together as he limped up and down the California coast telling the people of the Father's love and they were brothers and sisters in Jesus.

                      One night many years ago, when I was driving home from visiting a very poor family in rural Georgia, the thought occurred to me: you say God loves all people and wants us to be happy.  What does that mean to these four small children whose father is too uneducated  to hold  down  a
good paying job and whose mother is retarded?"  

                        The trip home was thirty-eight miles, several of them over dirt roads. I had most of an  hour to struggle with the answer.  Before I  parked the car in front of the church I was well convinced of the danger and betrayal in regarding Jesus as a person who lived in the "long ago and far away".  It is His will, that united with Him by faith and Baptism as branches on a Vine and members of a Body, we be for one another His living presence, His energy, consolation and love.   When I went back to teach that family how to grow lettuce for a balanced diet, brought them food and clothing, helped return a used TV they had bought for a house without  electricity, and assisted in finding a job, it was really Jesus doing all of this in the here and now.  I was answering in faith the prayer Jesus prayed to the Father long ago and far away in the here and now of rural Georgia  that the Father would be one with Jesus and Jesus would be one with all who believe and are Baptized.  (Jn. 17 20 - 28.
                      May your heart and mine be ever faithful kind and generous enough to know and love Jesus present and living within and around us in our everyday experience of life! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Blog # 330 A Masterpiece

Blog  # 330  A  Masterpiece

                  Think for a moment of a great artist in a paint store.  Moving about among the colors spread out on the counters, the artist selects several of them and brings them to his studio, The artist has a commission to paint a picture of a beautiful sunrise.  The colors chosen at the store are to be used for the painting.      

                     In order to play their part in the creation of the painting the various colors must 'give themselves' to the artist , some of them spread on the canvas just as they are, others blended with darker shades of the same color or lightened with white, but each of the colors poured out and recreated in the skill of the artist will share with the other colors in the  masterpiece.

                     We have a parallel with the artist, his colors, and his masterpiece in God's dealings with us who believe in Him. 

                     As there were other colors on the shelf at the store not chosen for this particular painting,  so there are some persons in the world who have not yet come to know the Lord personally, perhaps through no fault of their own. We know God wants all men and women throughout the world to share in the destiny of Jesus, but for the time being some do not know it, some do not believe.  We who do believe are like the colors selected by the artist. We know we have been chosen by Him to share in a very definite way in creating with Him together with other believers, a  certain reality which can very well be termed a masterpiece,  a fellowship, a brotherhood and sisterhood, a Vine, a Body, a Church.

                    In order to share completely in the plan of God for us, we must be  holy, change, and become like children, forgive and love one another as He has forgiven and loved us, reform our lives, be born from above, believe . Or as Jesus put it on another occasion, unless we take up our cross daily and come after Him we cannot be His disciple, we cannot share His destiny, we cannot die, rise, and be glorified with Him by faith even now in our everyday experience of life.  We remain merely colors rather than become part of  a beautiful sunrise.   

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Blog # 328 -a

Blog # 328 -a 

              This is a special notice for any regular blog readers 'out there'.   I just realized Blog  # 320 entitled Catholic Theology # 7  was still in my computer as a draft  rather than having been published between Blogs # 326 and 328.  I am sorry for this error on my part because the content of # 7 is very important and fits logically between #'s 6 and 8.  Thanks for your patience and forgiveness!  Fr. C.

Blog # 328 Married Love

Blog # 328   Married Love

                  Until recently the following thoughts were used as an introduction in the  Roman Catholic Marriage  rite.  Currently it would be optional.  I always appreciated it and found it inspirational even to me as it was easily adapted and adjusted for me in  my own celibate love.  I hope it has been and will continue to be a blessing for you.

                                    +++                              ++                             +++
                     "My dear Friends, you are about to enter into a union which is most sacred and most serious.  It most sacred because it was established by God Himself ; most serious because it will bind you together for life in a relationship so close and so intimate that it will profoundly influence your whole future.   That future, with its hopes and  disappointments , its successes and its failures, is hidden from your eyes.  You know these elements are mingled in every life and are to be expected in your own. And so, not knowing what is before you, you take each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and health. until death.

                     Truly, then, these words are most serious. It is a beautiful tribute to your undoubted faith in each other, that recognizing their full import, you are nevertheless so willing and ready to pronounce them.  And because these words involve such solemn obligations, it is most fitting that you rest the security of your wedded life on the great principle of self-sacrifice.  And so you begin your married life by the voluntary and complete surrender of your individual lives in the interest of the deeper an wider life which you are to have in common.  Henceforth  you will belong  entirely to each other; you will be one in mind, one in heart, and one in affections.  And whatever sacrifces you may hereafter be required to make to preserve this mutual love, always make them  generously.

                   Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome.  Only love can make it easy; and perfect love can make it a joy. We are willing to give in proportion as we love, and when love is perfect the sacrifice is complete.  God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; and the  Son so loved us that He gave Himself for our salvation.  "Greater love than this no man has, than that he lay down his life for his friends."

                   No greater blessing can come to your married life than pure conjugal love, loyal and true to the end.  May, then, this love with which you join  your hands and hearts today never fail, but grow deeper and stronger as the years go on.  And if true love and the unselfish spirit of perfect sacrifice guide your every action, you may epect the greatest measure of earthly happiness that may be allotted to man in this vale of tears.  The rest is in the hands of God,  Nor will God be wanting to your needs;  He will pledge you the life-long support of His graces in the Holy Sacrament which you are now going to receive."

Monday, August 4, 2014

Blog # 327 Value of Faith

Blog # 327  Value of  Faith

                Faith has to do with TRUTH.  There are two ways of discovering truth, one by experience, one by faith. Examples:  I know by experience it is a sunny day. After reading it in the newspaper I know by faith President Obama and his wife are spending the week-end at Camp David.

                  To 'have' faith, or to experience faith is to believe.  To believe is to take something as true on the word of anotherWe distinguish the content of our faith, or what we believe from the act of faith or the experience of consciously putting our faith to work as  it were in the act of personally responding to what has been revealed to us as if it were our own experience. 

                   The content of our experience cannot be the content of our faith, whereas the content of our faith could at a later time be the content of our experience.  For example: Holding my left hand up before my wide-open healthy eyes I experience the truth that I have five fingers on my left hand.  There is no room for faith in discovering this truth.   In contrast, however, I could be told by a friend that St. Peter's Basilica is in Vatican City.  If I have never been to Vatican City or St. Peter's Basilica I can believe this  testimony.  Later on I may have an opportunity of visiting Vatican City and experiencing the truth of what I have believed.  From that point on I cannot believe it.  To take something as true on the word of another is essential to the act of faith

                    We distinguish an act of  faith from a profession or proclamation of faith.  An act of faith is a conscious response to a relationship. A profession of faith is a statement.  Our classic act of  faith begins: "O, my God, I firmly believe that  you are one  God..."  Our profession of  Faith on Sundays at Mass begins: "We believe in one God, the Father Almighty..."  We can illustrate the difference in a scenario in which a man tells a friend "I have a wonderful wife/" and another scenario in which a man tells  his wife " You are a wonderful wife".

                 We can see the usefulness and value of  faith in that it informs us of truth that we do not or could not otherwise attain. This is true of both human faith and divine faith.  In the case of human faith we see this in the labels on cans and packages of food we buy, the DOW Jones averages given in our daily newspaper  for those interested in daily stock reports, the report of yesterday's weather in Chicago where Grandma lives, etc. In the case of divine faith we see its use and value when applied to the question of the origin of the world, whether we will live beyond the grave,  the Holy Trinity, the divinity and humanity of Jesus, the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the authenticity of the Bible, the authority of the Church and the Holy Father, the identity and meaning of Sanctifying Grace, the efficacy of the Sacraments, etc.
                 As with a loaf of bread, its complete identity is not captured with a list of ingredients, flour, water, salt, raisins, etc., nor with the further mixing and baking of these ingredients, but goes on to the eating nourishment joy and love a family or friends experience in eating the bread together, so, the complete act of faith includes our response to the truth that faith reveals, the power for overcoming evil that it engenders within us, the joy of knowing we are in direct contact with God, called by Him to share the very holiness of Jesus and entitled to look forward with absolute trust to  the  experience of perfect happiness with Him in His Kingdom forever if we but follow the plan for us He reveals to us in faith.

                In the light of our identification of faith in its relation to truth, the more important question is not "Are you saved?", but "What did Jesus  teach?"  Both questions are important but the second one is more fundamental than he first.  All that God wishes us to know about Himself, creation, and ourselves is given in the answer to the question "What did Jesus teach?".  "Are you saved?" stops short of what an act of faith in the complete message Jesus bought from Heaven entails.