Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sunday October 4th - The Feast of St. Francis


One day toward the end of his life Francis was huddled in a cave on Mt.  Alverna.

He was lost in contemplation, meditating on his own sins, the suffering of Christ and how much he was loved by God.

And slowly but surely a strange desire grew in his heart.
He longed to suffer in some small way like Christ suffered.
He longed in some small way to experience the wounds of Christ.
He longed in some small way to help Christ carry the cross.

He had finally fallen in love with God and this desire to suffer was motivated by his love.

Suddenly while lost in prayer Francis received an incredible gift a 6 winged angel appeared to him and in his hands and in his feet and in his side appeared the wounds of Christ.

They were not a figment of his imagination.
They could be seen and touched by others.
At times they hurt like the wounds of Christ and bled like the wounds of Christ.

Many believe that the stigmata was God’s final approbation of Francis, his life, his dreams and his brotherhood.

The stigmata was God’s final stamp of approval of the little man from Assisi  who had tried so hard to imitate Christ that many called him an “alter Christus” or like another Christ.

You know when I would explain this to the exhausted pilgrims who would come to the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi on their tours many would turn away or roll their eyes. Some would come right out and say… “That’s weird” or “Too weird for me.”

They could understand poverty and the importance of placing one’s trust in God.

They could understand the importance of not being owned by our possessions.

They could understand the importance of purifying their love through the virtue of chastity and the importance of trying to love without seeking anything in return.

They could understand obedience and how all of us are called to surrender our wills to God and to God’s plan for us.

But the Stigmata was just too much for them to take so I tried to  show them how much suffering love is already been a part of all of our lives.

How about our parents who would get up in the middle of the night when we were sick? (suffering love indeed)

You know I always had whatever I needed as a child not necessarily what I wanted but I always had whatever I needed often at great sacrifice to my parents. (Suffering Love)

Anyone in love,
anyone who loves,
anyone who has ever loved is willing to suffer.

Many years ago  a kid in my office who was being sent home.

I spent three days trying to convince him to call home.
When he did his father lost it and there was lots of screaming and yelling.

When the kid got home there was more yelling and fighting and they even shoved each other. It was horrible.

The next day the kid was sleeping
And all of a sudden the dad was standing there dressed in running clothes

This was not a very common site.
The kid could not remember the last time his Dad ran.

He said to his son get up we are going to run.
There was no explanation.
Rather than fight again the kid surrendered.

At first it was easy but then the kid noticed that his Dad was getting winded.

It started to bother the son when he looked over at his Dad and saw he “sucking air”.

After a while the young man began to worry about his father.

Not much farther the kid looked over and his Dad was covered in sweat
They ran on and ran on and ran on.

Finally when they came to the bottom of a huge hill the son just could not let his Dad run anymore.

He grabbed his father and said why are we doing this?
It took a minute for his Dad to speak.
When he caught his breath he said
“I was horrible to you last night, we were horrible to each other”

I couldn’t sleep last night.
I had to figure out a way that I could convince you that I loved you.

I knew the only way I could prove it to you was to suffer for you.
So I was going to keep running until you stopped me or I fell over.

The Dad continued…
”We are going to come home.
We are going to get you evaluated to see if you have a drug problem.
You are going to get a job and pay the family back for the tuition you lost. “

And we are going to face all of this together.

I’m your Father, you are my son  and I should have never lost my temper.
I’m sorry.
I will never speak to you like that again.

When you hear the story like… it’s easy to understand how St. Francis love God and why St. Francis longed to suffer for Christ.

May all of us like St. Francis fall in love with God

May all of us spurred on by our love for God love each other more and more.

May the redemptive power of a love willing to suffer change our hearts.

May it change our families,
change our country
change our church
and may it change the world.

Happy Feast of St. Francis.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Call On a Friday Night.


Last night I stopped over at A Simple House on T Street NW, There is a community there which includes three CUA Alumni. As the name implies it is a simple little community of good people trying to live the Gospel as best as they can. To be honest I’m kind of ashamed that it has taken me so long to get there.

Here is what I noticed….

As the name implies they live simply… They try to remove from their lives, or not invite into their lives, those things which get in the way of living the Gospel. Recently when one of the houses was broken into the perpetrators probably had a hard time finding something that they wanted to steal. I guess it’s one of the benefits of living simply.

They are normal people… I’ve known them since they were freshmen.. They are normal.. they are just like us. Sometimes we tend to excuse ourselves from the Gospel call to service and holiness by saying oh “those people are holy, they are different”  The residents of  A Simple House are like you and me and for a while God has called them to live their lives in community with each other and those in need and they said yes...

They genuinely love the people they serve. All over the house there are photos scotch taped to the walls, Pictures of families, of little kids of moments of community. Each photo shows a person they have had the privilege to know. The people of A Simple House’s community seem to be touched by the lives of the people they serve as much as much or more as they are of service to them. (Does that make sense?) In other words… as often is the case  with the Gospel, they seem to get as much or more as they give… in their service to the people in DC.

Sadly our culture always seems to put a treadmill of busyness and worries and challenges before us and says run.  Most of us do… I know I have run on that treadmill for years sometimes its so hard to get off. Then out of the blue God sends you an invitation to anOpen House at A Simple House and gently invites you to look again at what is important. That’s what happened to me last night.

Thanks Bianca Laura and Ryan… thanks for a great night… Proud of you … always have been.  Erin great meeting you and I’m proud of you too.


PS. Click on their logo and it will take you to their website. They can explain their call and their dream a lot better than I can.


Friday, September 25, 2009

26 Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B - 2009

I’ve been walking a lot of lately and one day while I was walking from CUA to the National Cathedral along Porter Street I spied a group of children up ahead in a very lively discussion.

The discussion was heated and it seemed to be about some game they were playing certainly something important to them. It was a mixture with English and Spanish.

As I approached I thought I would just walk by but all of a sudden… one of the kids yelled “Mr. they aren’t being fair.” which led to a similar shout from the opposing side.

I didn’t know what to say and found myself in the middle of these kids fighting about something I didn’t understand.

The kids were clearly frustrated and their sentences all began with they…

They did this
They did that
They, they, they..

Thank God a woman with a baby came along and stepped in and the kids began to listen to her and ignore me because she obviously was a much more qualified arbiter.

She spoke in English and Spanish.

As I walked on I thought we are so quick to join groups and to label ourselves “us and them”

The kids were simply arguing about a game.. and probably when things were decided they went back to playing..

Thanks God kids don’t usually hold grudges, that little trick is somehow learned later on in life.

When adults label others
When adults begin sentences with “they”…

We often segregate ourselves from “them” or refuse to let “them” or “those people” be a part of our lives..

We refuse to recognize and good in “Them”

Once a person is labeled as part of Them it is really hard for many to open the door of their heart to “them” again.

When children begin every sentence with They….
it can be harmless when adults begin every sentence with they… it can be catastrophic.

Lumping people together with labels like
Lazy or
or Ignorant
or worthless
or bad or whatever

Is one of the saddest things a human being can do.

Yet that’s exactly what the disciples did in today’s Gospel..

They saw people they didn’t know
They saw people who were not from their group
not a part of their circle of friends
expelling demons and they judged them or labeled them.

They didn’t consider that demons were indeed being expelled or good was being done

They didn’t see that “the others” were actually helping people.

Instead they judged that they were some how infringing on their turf.

They thought we are the disciples of Jesus, Only we are allowed to do good for others in his name..

Jesus … used it as another teaching moment in his final crash course on his way to Jerusalem.

He called on his disciples not to be scandalized by the good deeds of others but rather
to judge everyone not by the arbitrary groups we establish
but by the fruits of their lives.

In other words we should judge people by how they live and what they accomplish

And so the first message we need to take away from this Gospel is simply that.

We should rejoice in the good that others do rather than be jealous or envious because they are different than us.

In other words should not allow ourselves to be scandalized easily by the deeds of others.

The second message is in the same vein.

Jesus uses this occasion to teach the disciplies that It is of paramount importance that we do not scandalize others.

It is so important for us not to be a stumbling block which makes it harder for others believe in God and to live good lives.

The words of Jesus should not be taken lightly… and when I think about them seriously sometimes they frighten me.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”

So how do you keep from scandalizing others ?

Jesus resorts to hyperbole to make his point when he says… If it caused you to sin cut it off or rip it out.

If the disciples took him literally it would have been really easy to tell his disciples from the non believers because every single one of them or us would have been missing some body part.

People would have been able to say… “Oh there’s a Christian and there’s another one…”
because all of us would have been bandaged up from head to toe.

What Jesus is saying is simply this..

We always have to strive to identify those things which things which hold us back and remove them from our lives.

And sometimes letting go of our pride
letting go of our anger or rage,
letting go resentfullness
letting go of our possessions or
letting go of our spiritual laziness or sloth
letting go of whatever
may seem as hard as cutting away a piece of ourselves, It may seem as hard as cutting off our hand or plucking out our eye.

Yet if we want to avoid ever giving scandal
and live good lives
live holy lives
Sometimes, actually almost always
its demands what might seem to be radical surgery or some kind of spiritual amputation.

And so….

Let us be slow to judge others or lump them in to groups… rather let us recognize their works and rejoice in their good deeds…

Let us examine our lives carefully, prayerfully, thoughtfully
and be quick to take from our lives those things which separate us from God and each other

Even if sometimes it seems that doing so will demand radical surgery on our personality and our lives

How we love your word oh lord.. help us understand how to put it into practice.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Someone Sent Me this… and who knows why I am posting it on my blog? For some reason it just seems useful.

A lady got up very early one morning and went outside to pickup the Sunday paper, she noticed someone had prayed red paint all around the sides of the neighbors brand new beige truck. She went over and woke him up and gave him the bad news. He was, of course extremely upset.

And they stood there trying to figure out what could be done about the problem. They decided there wasn't much recourse but to wait until Monday, since nothing was open. Just then another neighbor came out of his house, surveyed the situation and immediately went to get hisWD-40 out and cleaned the red paint off with it. Guess What! It cleaned up that paint without harming the original paint on the truck! I'm impressed!!
W ater Displacement #40. The product began from a search for A rust preventative solvent and de greaser to protect Missile parts. WD-40 was created in 1953 by three Technicians at the San Diego Rocket Chemical Company. Its name comes from the project that was to find a'water displacement' compound. They were successful with the fortieth formulation, thus WD-40. The Corvair Company bought it in bulk to protect their atlas missile parts.
Ken East (one of the original founders) says there is nothing in WD-40 that would hurt you...' IT IS MADE FROM FISH OIL' . When you read the 'shower door' part, try it. It's the first thing that has ever cleaned that spotty shower door. If yours is plastic, it works just as well as glass. It is a miracle! Then try it on your stovetop.. It is now shinier than it has ever been before.
1) Protects silver from tarnishing.
2) Removes road tar and grime from cars.
3) Cleans and lubricates guitar strings.
4) Gives floors that `just-waxed` sheen without making it slippery.
5) Keeps flies off cows.
6) Restores and cleans chalkboards.
7) Removes lipstick stains.
8) Loosens stubborn zippers.
9) Untangles jewelry chains.
10) Removes stains from stainless steel sinks.
11) Removes dirt and grime from the barbecue grill.
12) Keeps ceramic/terra cotta garden pots from oxidizing.
13) Removes tomato stains from clothing.
14) Keeps glass shower doors free of water spots.
15) Camouflages scratches in ceramic and marble floors.

16) Keeps scissors working smoothly.
17) Lubricates noisy door hinges on v ehicles and doors in homes
18) It removes black scuff marks from the kitchen floor! Open some windows if you have a lot of marks.
19) Bug guts will eat away the finish on your car. Removed quickly, with WD-40!
20) Gives a children's play gym slide a shine for a super fast slide.
21) Lubricates gear shift on lawn mowers..
22) Rids kids rocking chairs and swings of squeaky noises.
23) Lubricates tracks in sticking home windows and makes them easier to open.
24) Spraying an umbrella stem makes it easier to open and close.
25) Restores and cleans padded leather dashboards in vehicles, well as vinyl bumpers.
26) Restores and cleans roof racks on vehicles.
27 ) Lubricates and stops squeaks in electric fans.
28) Lubricates wheel sprockets on tricycles, wagons, and bicycles for easy handling.
29) Lubricates fan belts on washers and dryers and keeps them running smoothly.
30) Keeps rust from forming on saws and saw blades, and other tools.
31) Remove s splattered grease on stove.
32) Keeps bathroom mirror from fogging.
33) Lubricates prosthetic limbs.
34) Keeps pigeons off the balcony (they hate the smell).
35) Removes all traces of duct tape.
36) Folks even spray it on their arms, hands, and knees to relieve arthritis pain
37)  Florida  's favorite use 'Cleans and removes love bugs from grills and bumpers.'
38) Protects the Statue of  Liberty  from the elements. 
39) WD-40 attracts fish. Spray a LITTLE on live bait or lures and you will be catching the big one in no time.
40) Ant bites. It takes the sting away immediately and stops the itch.
41) WD-40 is great for removing crayon from walls. Spray on the mark and wipe with a clean rag.
42) If you've washed and dried a tube of lipstick with a load of laundry, saturate the lipstick spots with WD-40 and Presto! Lipstick is gone!
43) If you spray WD-40 on the distributor cap, it will displace the moisture and allow the car to start.
Keep a can of WD-40 in your kitchen cabinet. It is good for oven burns or any other type of burn. It takes the burned feeling away and heals with NO scarring.

Remember, the basic ingredient is FISH OIL

Friday, September 18, 2009

25th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year – B 2009

May the peace of Christ reign in our hearts

In today’s Gospel Jesus has left the north and has begun his journey towards Jerusalem.

He knows that with each step forward he is in greater danger and there is also something else very difficult in this passage.

In this his second warning about his death Jesus hints at betrayal “The Son of Man will be handed over…It would appear that Jesus understands the struggle going on in the heart of Judas..

By speaking clearly about it he seems to be trying to help Judas see the error of his way.

Notice that he no longer waits for crowds to form or gather around him in fact from this passage it almost seems that he does not want the crowds

One could venture to guess that Jesus knows that his main task he is to concentrate on the training of the apostles.

Jesus is fully aware that if the message, the good news is to last it has to be written on the hearts of his closest followers.

Increased danger…
Betrayal fortold 
A crash course is needed

Yes this passage paints a pretty intense picture.

The next paragraph helps us understand just how important  this crash course really is.

While they were walking Jesus heard them arguing among themselves on who would be the greatest…

He didn’t stop them he let them keep talking
He knew he could turn it into a teaching moment later

Their discussion on who would be the greatest teaches us so much about how much they understood the kingdom of God and time was short.

1. It teaches us that they are in denial about the sacrifices, suffering and death which Jesus and eventually all of them will face

2. It shows that they are still dreaming of worldly power and prestige maybe even wealth

3. It helps us understand that their primary motivation is still self-seeking

4. Finally their silence when confronted about their discussion shows that in their hearts of hearts they knew what was right and what was wrong.

Jesus took their visions of grandeur and self interest very seriously

He sat down… and he called them around him

This was a signal to all of them that Jesus considered what he was going to say very seriously

And he challenged them to move from a ambition to rule to an ambition to service and power.

And with the example of a little child reminds them that service to the weak, the poor, those without influence those who can do little for themselves is what their ambition should be directed toward.

So much to think about so much for us to ponder today..

Why are we here…?

Why are we in this beautiful Church?

Why do we give God space in our crowded lives?

Are we here so that we can pass that test we didn’t prepare for?

Are we here so that we seem holy to others?

Or because if we don’t come we fear that God will punish us ?

In other words is our motivation like that of the apostles in today’s Gospel

Is our presence here fundamentally self seeking and self interested here?

Are we in denial about what it takes to be an apostle of Christ?

Are we in denial like the apostles who just can’t accept that being a follower of Christ entails sacrifice and suffering?

Do we continue to delude ourselves into thinking that some way we can avoid our cross whatever it may be, even though Jesus himself did not avoid the cross but rather embrassed it.?

Finally do we accept the fact that being of service to others… is an essential component in our life of faith.?

Can you imagine what world would be like if we all took to heart the call to service in today’s Gospel ?

Let us realize that the gift of the Gospel has been given to us and it is up to us to share it.

Just like Jesus needed the apostles to carry on his message, God needs our generations to continue to move hearts bring the message to those in need

Let us remind ourselves that just like Jesus needed the time to give the apostles a crash course…

We need time to develop and deepen our faith so that we may answer the Gospel’s call to service

One hour a week at Mass is not enough

Let us continually search our minds our hearts our actions our desires so that our motives for following Christ may be pure and holy not self seeking or selfish in any way

Finally every night let’s exam our day and see how much we have placed ourselves at the service of others and the Gospel ?

And if most of our efforts have been  directed towards our own  self interests let’s promise to do better.

We need to do better.

For paraphrasing…

Whoever receives the poor, the helpless, those who just don’t get it,

Whoever receives the socially awkward, those who can’t fend for themselves.

Whoever receives those who can’t possibly repay an act of kindness.

Those who are hopelessly entwined in self-interest.

If we receive these In the Name Jesus

We Receive him…

We have a lot of work to do


Saturday, September 05, 2009

23 Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B

In the first reading from the prophet Isaiah the fullness of God’s love and God’s providence is prophesied.

“Be strong…. fear not
Here is your God…
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared”

They brought him to Jesus
He was their friend maybe even their brother or relative.

hatever the case, he was someone important to them.

They cared enough about him to help him.

So they brought him to Jesus
and that in itself is surprising because the cities in the area called the Decapolis were not Jewish territory.

The people who brought the mute and deaf man to Jesus might not have even been Jewish.

However, they were so desperate that they put their hope in an itinerant Jewish Rabbi.

It is obvious that there is something different about the way the man was healed.

Last week Jesus simply prayed and demons were expelled and people were healed.

All of this happened in a group setting…

This week Jesus healed the man privately.

Mark wants to make sure that we understand this completely so he mentions it three times

He took him off
by himself
away from the crowd

Jesus could have healed him without saying a word

Jesus could have said “be opened” in front of everyone in the crowd

Jesus could have chosen so many other ways to restore this man to health like he had done so many times before.

And yet
He took him off…
by himself…
away from the crowd.

Holy ones…
The man who could not hear and could not speak must have had a special need.

Maybe the years of isolation had taken their toll

Maybe he had come to doubt God’s mercy
and doubt God’s love.

Maybe he was approaching despair or had lost hope.

There was something different going on here because Jesus acted differently

This wounded man,
this soul,
this special soul
needed special attention and that is what he got.

We don’t really know what his special need was.

We do know that he was mute and deaf when he came and he returned singing shouting God’s praises.

Whatever his burden or burdens were they were gone.

Whatever had happened
Whatever was said between them… he was healed.

We know that
Jesus healed him in a special way
that he was healed with his touch and with his spittle.

Maybe he did so because the man could not have heard a prayer of healing.

That’s all we know about that encounter between God and man.

So great was their joy at seeing God’s love in their lives.

So great was their joy at seeing the hand of God in action
that they all gave glory
and the more he begged them to be quiet
the more they shouted…

You know God didn’t just heal deaf and mute man…
had touched the lives of everyone in that Crowd.

“Be strong…. fear not
Here is your God,
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared”


The deaf and mute man’s friends or relatives..
loved him.

It was their love and their hope and their faith that began the process.

If it were not for them he would have spent his life alone and isolated unable to communicate..

They loved him enough even to bring him to the Jewish Rabbi.

They refused to give up on him.

Who do we love?
Who do we care enough about to bring to God.

Who is not healed because we have not followed their example ?

So often we are reluctant to talk
about God
or about
our faith
or about anything faith related with others.

We are uncomfortable and we don’t want to talk about it.
with the people we live with and work with.

So often we think “I don’t want to impose my religious views on anyone else.”

We think thoughts like,
”My faith is a private matter it for me. It is between me and God.”

How many people that we live and work with know that we are Catholic and that we go to Church on Sunday and that our faith is important to us ?

We are so quick to talk about people we love and show their pictures and share their stories… but we run and hide at the thought of sharing our relationship with God

We kind expect people find faith on their own,
or we expect other people who know nothing about God’s love or God’s mercy or God’s revelation to make the first move..

If they don’t they we let them stay where their are.

We might even talk about them behind their back.

Can you believe him
Can you believe her… what a mess ?

That’s a huge mistake…

If that man’s friends and relatives had not brought him he would have never been made whole.

This private personal understanding of our faith is so contrary to the Gospel mandate at the end of Matthew’s Gospel.

“Go and make disciple of all nations….”

If everyone thought that their faith were a personal private matter the story of God’s love and our hope for salvation would have died with the first generation of disciples.

The Gospel also teaches us that…

God’s love is not one size fits all…
Jesus demonstrates so poignantly today that God touches our lives
that God heals us
in the way each one of us needs them to be touched.

He relates to some one way and others in another way.

His special attention to the man in the Gospel show the reverence that God has for each one of us and our unique needs.

He loves us all differently
but he loves us all completely…

As St. Theresa once said…
our glasses are all different sizes and shapes but they are all filled to the brim with God’s love.

God goes the extra mile

The deaf man the mute man
needed something special
and that’s what he got…

So will we…
We will be loved by God in the way we need to be loved for as long as we need it.
Love can do nothing else.

As we go about our week let us pray for direction and guidance.

Let us ask God to help us learn how to be like the people in the Gospel who brought someone to Jesus.

Let us look around us at all the people that God will place in our lives and let us imitate God
by finding the way to love , in the unique manner they need to be loved and bring them to him

“Be strong…. fear not
Here is your God,
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared”