Category Archives: Weekdays

Our Trinitarian Prayer Life

Friends in Christ,
Today Our Lord tells us that we must build our ‘house,’ on a firm foundation, otherwise it will be swept away by storms.
We can consider, in our spiritual life, or we might speak about our prayer life – is it built on a firm foundation? We are not speaking today about our norms of piety, which are part of the needed foundation – of a morning offering, examination of conscience before bed, meal prayers, time for mental prayer or meditation, spiritual reading, bible reading – we are not today speaking of this foundation, which is very important – But we can ask, is my prayer life Trinitarian?
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We should have a relationship with each of the 3 Divine Persons. This is the foundation that we want: Prayers or aspirations each day to God our Father. Speaking daily to God the Son, to Jesus, as our Savior, our brother, our intercessor, our friend. And – speaking to the Holy Spirit, asking his help, his power. A solid foundation for our spiritual life means relating to each of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity.
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Of course we gravitate to, or feel closer to, one of the Divine Persons. We may speak more often with Jesus during the course of the day, or meditate on his life in the Holy Gospels, and this would be very appropriate. Some call often on the Holy Spirit for his guidance and help, for outpourings of his Gifts. And as children of God, with a true sense of ourself as a son or daughter of God, we may often speak to our heavenly Father, and praise him, with an awareness of his watchful eye during our work.
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Earlier in my own life, I was not paying attention to this, but a good priest reminded me, to have a Trinitarian prayer life. This always strikes me very close to my heart when we recite the prayers for people who are near death. One is reminded of each of the Divine Persons: as the person is dying, the prayer is: ‘Go forth, Christian soul, from this world in the name of God the almighty Father, who created you, in the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who suffered for you; in the name of the Holy Spirit, who was poured out upon you. Go forth, faithful Christian!
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God the Father, Jesus, God the Holy Spirit – however we pray and speak with God, each day should find us relating to each of these dear, Divine Persons. And Mary should be with us too.
In this way, we will have built our spiritual life on a solid foundation, that will help us withstand the storms of life.

God has already appointed the hour of our death

Friends in Christ, in the gospel today we see that people were warning Jesus that he was in danger: ‘Leave this area, they said, because Herod wants to kill you.” But Our Lord is undaunted by such concerns. He says, ‘Go tell that old fox, I will accomplish my death at the time that is appointed, I will die in Jerusalem and not before.
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The Lord God knows our whole life, every moment, and the hour of our death, he knows it all. Whether the Lord wants us to live to be 52, or 103 years, its up to him.
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Nowadays, health foods and exercise clinics and natural pills and remedies and medical precautions and ADVICE – advice from everyone on how to keep from getting this disease or that and extend your life – well. We should prudently take care of ourselves, but things are really way out of hand. People are fixated on squeezing every last day out of life and avoiding any possibility of sickness. Is this the way to live?
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The martyrs laughed at death. For many centuries, when there was a crusade, thousands signed up to go, with excitement. Still today there are Marines and Navy seals and many soldiers who are ready to go and pay the price to defend the country. We can learn something from these: as the Church says, life and health is A good, but not the ultimate good. The saints teach us to live each day as our last. Do the things our doctor says, be prudent, and then we accept God’s will however and whenever he decides.
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Holiness is to do God’s will all the time, exactly as we know he wants it, well? If God decides we will die suddenly in an accident or gradually over years – next month or in 20 years, then? ‘Thy will be done!’ We WANT his will, because God’s will is the best. In this way we welcome our death however and whenever God gives it.
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St. Charles Borromeo was unhappy with a painting he saw in his house.  It was a skeleton with a sickle, representing death. He called for a painter and ordered him to erase the sickle and to paint instead a golden key; he thought we should be joyful at the thought of death, because death is the key to heaven.

Trust God in our Fears

Friends in Christ, Today the first reading is from the Book of Job. Job has many problems: tragedy, sickness – and he has been trying to figure out why God allows such things to happen to him. At one point he really comes to some wisdom. He says that God is all powerful; God makes mountains tremble – he causes earthquakes which make even huge buildings shake or collapse; God commands the sun to rise and to set, and he commands the stars. It is God who made the constellations in the heavens, and who does such marvelous things which cannot be fathomed. And if God is so great as to do all this, and much more, who am I to say to God, ‘What are you doing?’ Who am I to question God’s plan?
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Job, like us in our own life, wrestles with the question of why does God allow pain, suffering, incomprehensible things to happen? The Book of Job asks, ‘Why does God allow suffering?’ He wrote this so long before Jesus would come; before Christ would stretch out his arms in love, suffering with us, and for us.
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God came into our world in Jesus, not to take away suffering, but to enter into it, to make it salvific, to give it meaning. Job did not know that when we suffer, God is suffering with us. When sadness fills us, Jesus feels exactly what we feel – with us. Job did not know this. But his insight, his wisdom, is good. God has done such incredible marvels, just look at creation, he says. Look at the power and wonder of creation. We cannot make a planet, or even a butterfly, but for the Lord it is simple. God is clearly very great. Then can’t we trust him? How can we doubt him, or question his ways?
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A little boy needed some surgery, it was the only way to make him better. He was being taken down the hall on the gurney to surgery, and his father was walking along with him. The boy cried and cried, ‘Why daddy, why are you doing this to me?’ What can the father say? The child can’t understand. The father can only say: ‘Trust me.’ I love you, and so trust me.’
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This is what our Father-God says to us in our troubles, and pain, and problems: ‘I know you can’t understand. ‘ But just trust me.’ I am with you in this.

I am a sinner

Friends in Christ, today we see in the gospel, that once Peter experiences the sense of Awe in the presence of Christ, he feels his unworthiness – his sinfulness. ‘O Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinful man.’
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When a person falls into sin – I mean, when a person who wishes to serve God – falls into sin, one can become discouraged, there can be a sense of despair. People will sometimes get caught in sinful actions or fall due to a weakness that they have or propensity toward a certain vice – it is easy when one falls to feel discouraged.
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It is not uncommon for a person to admit that having fallen into a certain sin, they say ‘I stopped praying and didn’t want to go to Mass.’ ‘Why, I ask.’ ‘Because I felt so sinful, I didn’t feel I should be around God. Other people, once having fallen into a certain sin, becoming discouraged, they say, ‘what’s the use, I am a disgrace before God,’ and so they just proceed to commit more sins – because they have given up.
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On the contrary, the saints tell us that if we fall, we should immediately ask the Lord’s forgiveness, determine to confess when we are able, and then begin again – to serve the Lord with love. The devil wants us to fall, yes. But his real game is to get us to despair of God’s love, to say, ‘what’s the use.’ That’s his real game.
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St. Francis de Sales says that we must practice patience, not only with others, but with ourself.  ‘Some, he says, after a fall are so upset with themselves that they commit a thousand other faults. St. Aloysius Gonzga says, the devil always finds fish to catch in troubled water. We must not have a trouble heart.
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‘If we have fallen into a sin, says St. Alphonsus, we must not be disturbed, but humble ourselves peacefully; detest the sin, and have recourse to God. To be very upset over our sin is pride; we say, ‘How could I – how could I have fallen like that!?!’ But this is pride. To the saints, it was no surprise that they would fall, because we are all weak and foolish. Therefore, we must never lose our peace, even over our sins, because we have a heavenly Father who loves us, and is waiting for us to return.

The Gospel of St. Luke

Friends in Christ, we are in the 22nd week of Ordinary Time, and during the course of Ordinary Time, we first read from the gospel of Mark for some weeks, then for a long period the gospels are from Matthew, and now we are beginning to read from the gospel of St. Luke.
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The name Luke is Greek, and so St. Luke is a gentile. His gospel is written for the gentile converts to the Faith. These converts would have received a good deal of instruction before they were baptized – RCIA was 2 years in those days. But now St. Luke wishes to give them a deeper knowledge of the truths of their religion, and at the same time to show them on what a firm basis is their faith.
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A running theme through the gospel of Luke, is the universality, the catholicity, of the Christian faith. God’s mercy and forgiveness and salvation is offered to all people, not just the Jews. Women are portrayed in a favorable light, and the subject of prayer is stressed very much.
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St. Luke was also an artist and a doctor, and his gospel shows how he portrays people as living characters, details are often given of a medical nature, especially with the healings of Christ. The quality of St. Luke’s Greek is excellent. In his prologue, he tells why he is writing: ‘Many, he says, have drawn up a narrative concerning the things that have taken place. I also have determined, after following up things carefully from the very beginning, to write for thee an orderly account that you may understand the certainty of the words in which thou hast been instructed.”
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He begins with Mary and the infancy of Christ, which he probably learned from the Blessed Virgin herself. His Gospel begins in Jerusalem where the people are awaiting a Savior, and it ends in Jerusalem with the risen Christ. In these pages, the Holy Spirit is seen to be very active.
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The turning point in the Gospel is in chapter 9, when Jesus decides to go up to Jerusalem to preach and to die for our salvation. St. Luke emphasizes a great deal Jesus going to Jerusalem; he highlights the priestly character of Christ’s mission. It is for this reason that the symbol of St. Luke is the Ox, or the Calf – animals which symbolize sacrifice.

Detachment from the world

Friends in Christ, today in the gospel, Our Lord first warns against seeking after riches; ‘Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Then Peter says, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” Jesus tells him that for those who give up all to follow him, they will receive many times more, back, and eternal life.
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In Christ’s many teachings, it is not the fact of having nice things or wealth that is the problem, but really, our attachment to things of this world, making them into gods, as the first reading says today. To set our heart on created things, whether it be material goods, or clothes, or cars, or shoes; or whether it be experiences – travel, adventure, sports – or even persons on whom we set our heart, instead of God – we will not find peace, or joy, and we won’t find God.
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Father Faber has some great insights to the problem of seeking happiness in created things. He says, it leads to an endless, hopeless seeking of consolations and recreations. To seek in creatures what we feel we can’t find in God is truly a state of misery, he says, and is an endless and hopeless business. There is no end to it.
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Like bees among distasteful flowers, we fly from one to another, hardly stopping, but the honey which we taste is drugged. Strange to say, seeking joy in things, outside of God, becomes more of a necessity to us, the less that we are satisfied by it.
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This search for creature-consolation, like all failures, makes us irritable witih others. We pour our disappointment on them because money or experiences or some person could not fulfill us. And when all of this fails, as we are close to a frustrating despair, we turn to the lowest of all: bodily comforts: food, or drink, or drugs – to numb the empty feeling.
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How much better for us to detach our heart from all created things, and live for Jesus Christ alone. Then we will have all that our heart desires, and eternal life.

The Net

Friends in Christ, today in the gospel, Jesus gives this parable of the net. In those days in Palestine, fishermen fished with two different methods of nets. One was the casting net which was thrown from shore and then pulled in, capturing the fish that were targeted. The other kind of net was with the drag-net. This net was put into the water and pulled by a boat, enclosing all kinds of fish and other things. In this case, the net was taken to land to sort out the good things from the bad.
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It is to this that Jesus refers: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace.
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As William Barclay says, there are two great lessons here. The first lesson is that the Church is like this drag-net. All kinds of people are in the Church: good, bad, useless, – but it is not ours to judge. Sometimes it’s actually deceiving, who is good and who is not. Some people think that the Church should be more of an exclusive club: only for those who are fully committed. If you do not practice your faith 100%, Mass every Sunday, Confession every year, prayers every day – if not, you are out, not allowed inside the church. Some Protestant sects operate like that. Some think this would be the right method, to really purify the faith. But this is not the Church, Jesus says so. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.” So that is the 1st lesson.
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The 2nd lesson that we learn from this parable is that the time of separation WILL come, when the good will indeed be separated from the bad. When the truth is made known about every soul, and they are sent to eternal bliss or eternal damnation. In this world however, it is hard for us to know who are in the Elect. Some who are evil, may be saints before they die. Some who seem to be good, may become lost. But the separation of the good and the evil is not man’s work, but God’s.

God will multiply his grace

‘To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’
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These words of Our Lord seem to go against our present ideas of basic fairness. ‘to the one who has, more will be given.’ ‘the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’ Such expressions by Christ recall the parable of the talents; the men who used the talents they were given, and produced more with them, were rewarded well. The one who just kept his safe, had it taken from him because the Master was displeased.
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When we work for the Lord, building his kingdom wherever we are – when we act on grace that he gives us, opportunities to be courageous, generous, kind, faithful – then the Lord gives us more. There is an expression in the business world which is true: ‘If you want the job done, give it to a busy man.’ In other words, if you have an important thing you need done, look for the person who is already doing a lot – that person is industrious, hardworking, motivated – even though they are loaded with more, they will somehow make it happen. If you give the job to the man who has lots of time on his hands, this might seem logical, but the job might not get done, because that man may not be so industrious.
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God is sort of this way. When we cooperate with grace, we almost certainly are given more grace; when we show ourselves faithful in little things, we are given great things. If a person steps up to the plate for God, and does difficult things for him, the Lord will give him more to do – in this way, he builds a person into a saint.

These men are my priests

Friends in Christ, today we see Our Lord and his disciples walking though the grain fields picking the heads of wheat and eating them. The Pharisees were outraged, because picking grain, that is, harvesting wheat, is work – and you aren’t supposed to work on the Sabbath.
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But our Lord defends his disciples. ‘These men are innocent’ he says. Why?
Well, in the temple every Sabbath, the priests had to replenish the Bread of the Presence, it was part of their rituals, and they ate that bread. So Jesus says, ‘look, your priests are doing this WORK on the Sabbath, replenishing the Holy Bread, working in the Temple, eating bread; they do this on the Sabbath, and they do not sin because they are priests. They are innocent. So too, my men here, who are picking wheat, and eating it. Even though it is the Sabbath, they are innocent!’
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Why is he saying this? Jesus is implying that the apostles are also – priests! In eating this wheat, they are symbolically being prepared to offer, not the bread of the Old Law, but the sacred Bread of the New Law. These men are innocent when they work on the Sabbath, because they are priests too!
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Winding all through the Sacred Scriptures, is the fact that Christ is preparing his 12 Apostles to be his priests, priests of the New Law.
We pray for priests, and for those young men that God is calling, that they respond and give him their life.

Finding God

Friends in Christ,
today Our Lord holds up simplicity as the door by which God can get into our heart. In his day, it was the Jewish leaders who could not accept Jesus. It was the simple, the humble, who could see the truth.
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Someone once said, ‘The heart, not the head, is the home of the gospel.’ This does not mean that intellectuals and leaders do not have access to God, it means that the proud cannot find him; simplicity and humility are the virtues that open the door to God.
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Jesus concludes his words today by saying that the only way to know God the Father is through the Son, and it is the Son who can reveal him to us. In another place he says, ‘He who has seen me has seen the Father.’
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Christ is saying, if you want to see what God is like, if you want to see the heart of God, the nature of God, God’s attitude toward us – then we need to look toward Jesus. Jesus will reveal our Father-God, and we will find him, if we are simple and humble enough.

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