Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Saint Charles Borromeo

St. Charles Borremeo, Bishop of Milan, (1538-1584) lived and worked in the Church after the Reformation, and during the reforms of Trent.  It was through the work and effort of Charles Borremeo that several of the crucial documents, and important precepts, were completed during the latter sessions of the Council.  St. Charles recognized the need for reform within the Church; especially in its administration, and training of its priests.  But his work was not without opposition.

St Charles attempted to form a loose society, or small groups, of priests for their spiritual and personal growth.  A major concern for St. Charles was to have a clergy which was directed to holiness, formed in spirituality, and well educated in scripture and theology.  Within this context, Charles also worked are reforming the liturgy and celebration of the sacraments.

In today's Church, especially in recent years, the Church has worked to create a clergy that would be real shepherds to God's people.  Today we look to have priests who are virtuous and who have a deep concern for doing ministry in the Church.  Over the last twenty some years we have seen seminary education change extensively to meet the needs of a changing Church.

St. Charles Borromeo reminds us how important it is, as a Church and individuals, to engage in conversion and discipleship.  Today we talk a lot about personal witness and proclamation of the Gospel, but it is as important to have a grasp of the theology and tradition which we adhere to.  As a Church we have to be faithful to the ministry portion of what we say and due.  Pope Francis has been excellent in helping our Church recall its mission, especially to the poor and anawim.

The Liturgy of the Hours sums up St Charles life well, and his challenge to us, when it states:  "Seek after integrity and holiness, faith, love, patience, gentleness."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Eternal Rest Grant Unto Them O Lord

The Solemnity of All Souls celebrates God's love and mercy, and recognizes that our gracious God invites us into the fullness of salvation.  We call to mind our brothers and sisters who have died, and we pray for them, as they prepare, through purgatory, to enter into heaven.  Our understanding of Purgatory is that it is that space by which we are wholly made ready to share eternal glory with the Father in heaven.

This day asks us to consider our own death, but also to consider the action and activity of Jesus Christ in the Paschal Mystery.   John's gospel will remind us that God "so loved the world," that by his Son Jesus, who entered our human condition, we have participation in the salvation that has been promised to us.  At the funeral Mass we consider the Eucharist to be that sign and symbol of God's great care and mercy.  But also by the very nature of the Mass, we pray for the deceased and ask God to receive our loved one, forgive their Sins, and unite them to the eternal Kingdom.

We might reflect that the funeral Mass is a celebration of the resurrection and not a celebration of the individuals life.  In Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist we have a union and unity with God the Father.  St. Paul will remind us that the love of God the Father cannot be taken from us.  But in that same understanding we must be open to receive the mercy offered us.

We are on the same journey of faith with our loved ones.  We now take responsibility to pray with them.  We are not people without hope.  Jesus Christ unfolded before us the mystery of the Father.  As children of God we have oneness with God.  It is that confidence and faith which allows us to remain firm and serene in the face of death, knowing that Christ has conquered  and we are promised a place in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Give to God what is God's

We are all very familiar with today's Gospel story.  The Pharisees attempt to catch Jesus in a verbal snafu, and end up trapping themselves.  They propose to Jesus whether or not it is proper to pay the government tax.  Jesus suggests that to each in their proper order, we are responsible to civil and religious authorities.  Mostly because this is the world we live in.
But as citizens of the Kingdom must live in such a way that we take responsibility within the community we live, and become a living witness to that ultimate communion of which we are part of.  Our response to our brothers and sisters much be perfected by the faith we profess.  Within the environment we find ourselves in we are always proclaiming, always bearing witness to the truth which we profess.   To be sure our faith calls us to live in a counter-cultural manner, yet drawing members around us into that journey of faith.
Certainly this is what the fathers of Vatican II must have meant when they drafted "The Church in the Modern World."  We are not called to be detached, that is a special vocation, but very much part of the communities in which we live.  Our faithfulness and desire to be holy does not allow for the brokenness of humanness  to distort or mis-direct of lifestyle.  Rather as living as faithful witnesses we have the possibility of transforming the world around us.  All the while giving to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's
In a very real way we become the leaven in the midst of the rotten dough.  Being a faithful steward of the goodness of God can become an inspiration and a source of encouragement.  It becomes less of a choice of living in one world or another, and more about the choices of life which we make.

Monday, October 13, 2014


I have been having massive problems getting into my blog over the last several weeks.  I have been trying to update to the latest version, and it doesn't happen.
Anyway, got back from retreat this past weekend.  This had to be one of the better retreats in that I attended very few of the talks, and prayed, read, and prayed some more.  In the past the conferences have become too much like theology classes.  I do not need that right now.  But to pray and reflect has been very valuable for me.

This fall we of course start the RE and youth ministry.  It is becoming more difficult to really expand the notion of 'faith' and 'holy' within our children since so many of their families are disconnected from Church.  We still labor under that 'quick-mart' mentality which quickly delivers our religion to us without any commitment or lasting effects.

I am starting Fr Robert Barron's section on Jesus Christ in a few weeks.  I hope to have a lot of people there but I fear it will be the same old stalwart peoples who come to everything.  I long to discover how to get into these peoples homes to get them excited about faith and Church. 

In the meantime Advent is just around the corner.  I really want to push the aspects prayer and preparation during that time.  Reconciliation services seem like a thing of the past, but I would like to offer that as well.

So I am excited.  I look forward to the upcoming high holy days, and then the cold winter.  All should be well.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

He looked up and had pity on thm

In Matthew 25, Jesus separates sheep from goats to help illustrate the last judgment and the coming of the Kingdom.  This is a powerful image, especially for those who would like to think that Jesus accepts any sort of response to his invitation to be a disciple.  Who gets into heaven?  Well it seems to be the meek, humble, kind, compassionate, peacemakers, seekers of justice and truth, and those who are persecuted for being righteous.  It should be noted that the 'nice' are not included here. 

To be sure we are called and directed to take up the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ.  That work includes the ability to see peoples in deserted places, see their needs and hungers, and have the ability to feed them.  Like the apostles we might cry out and declare the we do not have enough.  But as Jesus indicates we are to feed each other from our wellspring, from that which we have received from the blessings of the Christ.  More exactly Jesus builds up what is lacking in our lives.

See we are supposed to be the Church in the world today.  It is easy to imagine that 'Father' and 'Sister' do all of the work and are responsible for the ministry of the Church.  But St Paul will want us to understand that just as we have received the body and blood of Christ at the sacred altar of salvation, we are to share with others that same grace and blessing.

That is we recognize and identify the hungry, sorrowing, and the broken.  Through the ministry of Jesus, and of the Church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we minister to each other and share Good News.  Being Church is understanding that we are fellow sojourners and therefore we respond with and for each other.  I remember at one parish asking what was central to the mission of the parish.  Their response?  The parish dinners.  With much prodding and some fairly obvious hints they could not think of the Eucharist.

Like the crowds we are fed with the Body and Blood of Christ.  Let's make sure that the Eucharist is always the beginning and end of all that we do in faith.  The bread and wine should move us to consider what (who) we have received, and to respond with compassion and mercy towards each other.  Even St Paul advocates that we cannot receive the Eucharist unworthily, and need to respond with love and kindness towards all of our brothers and sisters based on the Eucharist. 

We let Jesus work with and through us so that we can be a reflection of Christ's care and compassion for all men and women.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ignatius of Loyola - Priest, pastor

Most of us know St. Ignatius for the Spiritual Exercises.  His life though is a careful study of conversion and interior transformation.  The founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius was born into a noble Basque family in the late 19th century.  While the family was said to be catholic, it becomes apparent in his writings that there was no practice of the faith.  Pursuing a military career, Ignatius was seriously wounded in battle.  During his recovery he read the life of Christ, and of the saints.  Overwhelmed by these texts he determined to devote his life to Christ.

Now Ignatius lived during a very broken time of the Church.  After the split of the Church in the middle part of the 16th century, the Holy Father invited Ignatius begin an order which would catechize and evangelize as part of the post reformation process.  So with St. Francis Xavier, and six others, the Jesuit order was born.  For the Jesuits the motto, "For the greater glory of God," guided their ministry and their work. 

Ignatius understood, quite personally, how our human desires could direct the human heart wrongly.  For Ignatius we had to constantly discern our response to the many people and situations we would find ourselves encountering.  Like St. Paul, the cross became the instrument which would guide us throughout our faith journey.  Having a deep intellectual and spiritual encounter with the mystery of faith was very important for Ignatius.

All in all, there was a firm desire, to conform our lives to the will of God.  The divine plan of God was that God chooses, or 'elects' us, and thus we are to be subordinate to the Father's will.  Our response then is to choose God in all of our actions and activities.  Just as in the Letters of St Paul love is not a theory but an action, our response towards the Fathers love for us is in our actions.  As St. Paul indicates to the Corinthians (11:1) "Imitate me as I imitate Christ."  Ignatius would want  us to seek what is advantageous to the Word of God and not ourselves.

This ongoing seeking Christ and pruning away Sin and Evil is the lifestyle which Ignatius would suggest for us.  We are invited to become an instrument (remember not a dish-rag or floor-mat) for the living Christ.  So that all of our works are for the Gory of God and his Kingdom.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Kingdom is a Pearl, Treasure, Net full of things

We used to have a class in our high school entitled, "Introduction to Catholicism."  It was for freshmen and was two semesters in duration.  Some parents, and a few young people thought this a weird title, especially since they were already 'catholic,'  and many had gone through catholic grade school.  But the intention of the class was not so much to rehash the number of commandments and sacraments, but to build up in their lives that to be a catholic meant that their was a lifestyle to be lived. 

As a Parochial Vicar at a parish in a college town I received a phone call one afternoon from a young lady who wished to go to confession for the things she was planning to do that evening.  That's right.  Sort of a pre-confession so I suppose she could go to communion on Sunday.  That idea sort of defeats the whole idea of reconciliation.  Where is the conversion and discipleship?

Today's readings allude to the necessity of obtaining the wisdom, and nurturing that wisdom and understanding, in order to make good and holy choices.  The persons presented in the parables are in the extreme.  These folks make a great sacrifice in their very lives in order to obtain those things that are truly valuable and have great worth.  Possessing the Kingdom is about seeking, uncovering, and spending our entire being on the value we unearth.  And even more so, It is having the ability of being able to discern what is true, good, and beautiful, from the base and superficial.

This is where ongoing prayer and reflection come in.  I like to tell the story of an older professor of mine from seminary.  Before teaching he had had a Diocesan job.  When priests made not so good decisions it was his job to talk with them.  Time and again he told us seminarians, these priests had ceased praying, did not engage in spiritual reading, did not go on retreats, and their words and even actions did not model charity or chastity.  They had ceased living a priestly lifestyle.

Especially today we are challenged to live a Christ centered life.  Where do we those values, morals and ideals, which give meaning and purpose to our life.  Living in the ways of Christ certainly points to the ways in which we might possess Christ as our very own.  We seek Christ first by putting his words and love into the center of our lives, making him the focus of our faith.